Monday, July 6, 2009

Press #1 For English

I read this blog the other day, and thought it was so thought provoking, I asked the author if I could copy and paste it. He gave his permission, so here it is!

Bi-Lingual Education is a failure

Real Texas Blog is not particularly a political blog, but sometimes there is just too much logic in an ongoing educational debate to ignore. One example of such an ongoing debate is Bi-Lingual education.

Bi-Lingual education has failed a generation of non English speakers.

In fact, it is a documented failure and enlightened school districts in Texas and Texas Legislature members who value education need to be aware of the facts. Not the emotions. The facts.

I have a dear friend who is a bank executive in a nearby town. She knew no English when her family moved here. Neither did her sister and brother. The lady I am referring to graduated salutatorian in her class. Both her brother and sister speak better English than I do. They did not attend bi-lingual education classes. We didn’t have them back then. Read this recent article forwarded to me by a friend and see what you think.

By Phil Kent | Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Horne v. Flores drives another nail into the coffin of bilingual education, the teaching theory in which immigrant children are segregated by language and taught primarily in their native language while being taught English on the side.

Bilingual education is a documented failure in school systems across the country, and the 5-4 decision, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., involving Arizona’s Nogales Unified School District emphasizes this failure with a stark conclusion: Teach English. Specifically, the high court recognizes the demonstrated effectiveness of structured English immersion (SEI) methods for teaching English language learners (ELL).

In 1992, some students and parents in the district sued the state, claiming it wasn’t taking “appropriate action” to overcome barriers to ELLs in schools. The state responded with English-immersion techniques. (Thomas Horne is the state school superintendent for public instruction.) Here’s what the high court concluded: “Research on ELL instruction indicates there is documented academic support for the view that SEI is significantly more effective than bilingual education. Findings of the Arizona Department of Education in 2004 strongly support this conclusion.”

The Supreme Court also concluded that a lower court had failed to adequately consider whether the Nogales school district’s implementation of SEI was a “changed circumstance” warranting relief.

SEI has proved its superiority to bilingual education wherever it has been implemented. The English-advocacy group ProEnglish filed a Horne friend-of-the court brief, and it is significant that the ruling cites Arizona data provided by the organization.

In fact, new numbers just released by the Arizona Department of Education estimate that 40,000, or 29 percent, of ELLs enrolled in SEI classes passed the English fluency exam and will transition into mainstream classes this year. That is up from just 17,813 students, or 12 percent, of ELLs who passed the English-fluency exam after being enrolled in bilingual education classes in 2006-07.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Nogales school district is doing exactly what the law requires – taking “appropriate action” through English immersion techniques to teach English to students who grew up speaking another language.

The Supreme Court could have cited many more SEI success stories. Massachusetts, for example, effectively uses English immersion as opposed to bilingual education. The June 7 Boston Globe reported on that state’s top-performing high school graduates – the valedictorians – including a boy from Haiti who arrived in Boston four years ago without knowing a word of English. The paper reported that Edner Paul not only leads his school but won a four-year scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Furthermore, according to the Globe, immigrant students were class valedictorians in 17 of the 42 high schools in Boston – and most arrived a few years ago barely knowing English.

A recent study by the Editorial Projects in Education also spotlights Massachusetts education and chronicles further encouraging news about English learners. Compared to English learners across the country, 36 percent of the state’s ELL students reached a proficient level in English, as opposed to just 16 percent nationwide. If that level of success holds true each year, most kids would learn English quickly enough to be out of special programs in two to three years at most.

Nogales school officials were trying to follow a successful model in spite of a vocal multilingual lobby that seeks to coddle non-English speakers in our classrooms. Yet polls continue to show that more than 90 percent of all Americans view English as the nation’s unifying language – a common tongue that enables job-seeking legal newcomers to participate in the American dream. The Supreme Court couldn’t have sent a clearer signal: Get rid of bilingual education and give English language learners a real opportunity to learn English and succeed.

Phil Kent is a board member of ProEnglish, based in Arlington.


DaBlade said...

You're speaking my kind of language on this one!

jojo said...

My thoughts exactly..

Anonymous said...

I live in Nogales and have lived hear since I was born. Although both my parents grew up in the Nogales school system,I spoke only Spanish until I was 6 years old, a case of Spanish being the primary language at home. I recall at night not asking for bedtime stories but for my mom to translate words into English. My education continued at home.

What frustrates me to no end is that when Ms. Flores' mother was intereviewed on the news a few months back, she required a translator. So what this says to me is that she has lived here for at least 13 years and it seems that she has not made an effort to learn the language herself, for whatever reason.

How can people expect their children to excel and learn English if the effort is not made by the adults in the home. I applaude Ms. Flores for all that she has achieved. I'm sure it could not have been easy, but she probably would have achieved it on her own instead of being dragged into the light and suing the state. My only hope is that the kids, and parents, in similar situations see it was her determination and not a lawsuit that got her where she is now.

Linda said...

Thank you DaBlade, jojo, and Anonymous for your comments.

I would like to add to this article about my husband. When he started school, he only spoke low German. He came home crying the first day because he didn't know what the teacher or the other kids were saying. His dad said that from then on, English would be spoken in the home. The low German was considered the 2nd language, but the children, from then on, knew English when they went to school.

The school didn't even consider teaching the subjects in a 2nd language.

I believe in immigration, legal, that is, and I believe if you are coming to America, learn to speak English.

If we moved to another country, we would have to learn that language.

Children are like sponges, and can learn the language very quickly. Let's get away from the bi-lingual teaching.

Debbie Jean said...


I came to your blog thru Jojo's. I love your blog and hope you will visit mine and become a follower also!!

God Bless~
Debbie Jean

Lana's Blog said...

As you know, my profession dealt with many foreign speaking people. The Spanish speaking were the only ones who demanded a translator. We were required by the courts to provide one, which in the long run raised the costs of our products for everyone. It was very frustrating when we discovered most of the people we were dealing with had been in our country for years and some were even 2nd & 3rd generation. All other foreign language people were fluent in English and understood what we were telling them.

My husband knew only German also. His parents worked very hard to learn our language and they spoke only English when he started school. He went on to become a high level manager in his profession.

Thanks for the information.