Bilingual Education

.. of different cultures. When students are educated in their native language and learn to rely only on it, then they do not blend with the rest of society. Robert King, author of “Should English be the Law?” states that “language is tearing apart countries around the world” (57). The United States should not become another victim. Speaking English is a necessary skill needed to succeed in the United States.

The United States job is to educate all people and teach all people English. Bilingual education programs may inhibit the reality of this goal. In contrast, Richard Rothstein, author of “Bilingual Education: The Controversy,” argues that ” teaching in ones native language reinforces ones self-worth” (672). Erie 5 Statistics, however, show that “self-esteem is not higher among limited English students who are taught in their native language.” In addition, statistics prove that stress is not higher for students introduced to English from the first day of school (Porter 32). Even parents of non-English speaking students recognize that bilingual education programs are not working. Latin and Mexican Americans were the ones who sought equal education opportunity in the first place, and they are the ones who are least satisfied with the present system.

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The Latino opposition to native-language teaching is now more apparent than ever (Porter 31). Immigrants witness the importance of the English language, and they want to see their children learn it as soon as possible. They are seeing no improvement in their childrens English from the current bilingual education programs and are in desperate need of a program that will successfully teach their children English (Streisand). Surveys have been taken for the past ten years concerning the current bilingual education programs. A recent survey of 600 Latino parents, taken by the National Center of Equal Opportunity, showed that the majority thought learning English was more important than learning to read and write in Spanish.

The survey also showed that parents favored learning English over learning other academic subjects. In 1988, a survey was taken by the Educational Testing Service who questioned over 2900 Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Asian Americans about bilingual education. The results showed that the majority felt it was the familys duty to teach children their native language, not the schools. Parents of non-English speaking children want their children to succeed academically, and know that learning the English language is the first step toward that goal. Bilingual education programs were designed to help these students but unfortunately the programs are only creating further hostility and frustration for these students who desperate to learn English (Porter 31). Parents of students enrolled in bilingual education programs have done many things to try to end bilingual education.

In 1997, parents of children enrolled in the bilingual education programs at the 9th street Elementary school in Los Angeles, California, kept their children out of Erie 6 school until the school board agreed to remove them from bilingual education programs. The protest lasted two weeks (Streisand). Parents have also taken legal measures. A law suit was filed in September of 1995 when 150 parents from Brooklyn Public schools were angered that their children remained segregated in bilingual education programs for three to six years despite the State Education Law that states that students be immersed in English classes after three years. Even after more than three years of instruction, students were still not receiving adequate English instruction (Porter 31).

If bilingual education programs were formed to help non-English speaking students, then why are they are the ones most against the programs? Evidently, bilingual education programs are failing and that they need to be reformed. California has taken the initiative. On June 2, 1998, California passed Ron Unzs Proposition 227, “English for the Children.” The Proposition requires non-English speaking students to be enrolled in classes in which nearly all the instruction is in English. Ben Wildavsky, author of “Put a Stop to Bilingual Education–Now!” reports that although some school districts have not been following the Proposition. However, Ron Unz points out that “the bulk of the school districts around the state seem to be moving in the direction of the initiative” (Wildavsky). Even other states are beginning to take the initiative. The prediction is that a similar initiative will occur on the 2000 ballot in Arizona.

Another advantage of Proposition 227 is that it gives the families the right to decide for their children. The Proposition states that with the parents request, students can be put back into bilingual education programs. This amendment has been very positive in California. It has given the supporters of bilingual education an alternative to Proposition 227. Proposition 227 consists of “immersion” programs. Immersion programs involve students learning lessons in simple language and slowly immersing themselves in the English language.

The immersion technique requires non-English speaking students to be in classes where nearly all instruction is done in English, but at a slower pace. With this technique, most students become fluent in English after just a year before being switched into all English classes. Initially opposed to the three year program introduced by bilingual education, teachers Erie 7 have already reported that the students in immersion classes are picking up spoken English rapidly. They are learning far more English than in the past. With the implementation of Proposition 227, impressive results have already occurred.

Limited English students in California who transferred into immersion classes under Proposition 227 scored 20, 50 or even 100 percent better on state wide tests compared to their peers who remained in bilingual education classes. Other states have also witnessed these results and are beginning to form similar initiatives (Wildavsky). Entrepreneur Guy W. Glodis is working on a reform in Massachusetts which revolves around the idea of immersion classes. Glodis is aware that the current “bilingual education programs are not meeting the needs of the students” (n. pag.).

With more than an 84 percent support rate from the Latino culture, Proposition 227 appears to be the solution for the future of education for limited English speaking youth. Implemented in 1968, bilingual education had the best humanitarian intentions but turned out “terribly wrongheaded.” Obviously a definite need for reform exists. From the results in California, immersion programs seem to be in the best interest for non-English proficient children. English is “the crucial skill that leads to equal opportunity in school, jobs and public life in the United States.” It is evident that bilingual education needs to be abolished and immersion programs implemented. If immersion programs were implemented and enforced throughout the United States, they would result in a brighter future for the United States non-English proficient youth (Glodis). Bibliography “Bilingual Education.” Education Week on the Web.

(1999): n.pag. Online. Internet. 31 Jan. 2000.

Available: Douglas, Kirk. “Bilingual Education.” New York Times Upfront 1 Nov. 1999: 37. Glodis, Guy W. “Current Bilingual Education Fails.” Worcester, MA Telegram and Gazette 27 Jan. 2000: n.pag.

Online. Internet. 10 Feb. 2000. King, Robert D. “Should English be the Law?” The Atlantic Monthly April 1997: 55-64.

Online. Internet. 11 Feb. 2000. Porter, Rosalie. “The Case Against Bilingual Education.” The Atlantic Monthly May 1998: 28-32. Rodreguez, Gregory.

“English Lesson in California.” The Nation 20 April 1998: 15-17. Rothstein, Richard. “Bilingual Education: The Controversy.” Phi Delta Kappan May 1998: 672. Proquest. Online. Internet. 11 Feb.

2000. Streisand, Betsy. “Is it Hasta la Vista for Bilingual Education?” U.S. News Online: Citizens Toolbox (1999): n.pag. Online. Internet.

11 Feb. 2000. Available: Taylor, Brian. “English for the Children.” 1997: n.pag. Online. Internet.

5 Feb. 2000. Available: Wildavsky, Ben. “Put a Stop to Bilingual Education! Manana!” U.S. News and World Report 5 April 1999: n.pag.

Works Consulted Horsburgh, Susan. “Divided by Language: Northern Territory Axes Bilingual Education for Aborigines, Sparking Charges of Cultural Neglect.” Time International 22 Feb. 1999: 46. Zelasko, Nancy F. “Bilingual Education.” World Book Encyclopedia.

1998 ed.