The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewRon Unz Archive
The Gift of English
It’s past time for New York to scrap bilingual ed
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeThanksLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

In June 1998, Californians overwhelmingly approved Proposition 227, the controversial ballot initiative that replaced the state’s bilingual-ed system with English-immersion classes. No more would California’s public schools force non-English-speaking immigrant kits to take their courses in their native tongue, guaranteeing that few would ever gain the proficiency in English they need to get ahead in America. Despite resistance from some local school districts and bilingual-ed advocates, nearly a million immigrant students, most of them Hispanic, transferred into the new English-immersion system.

The results are in, and they’re striking: in just two years, the standardized test scores of immigrant students rocketed up 40 percent. The Oceanside Unified District that followed Proposition 227 to the letter saw its second-grade immigrant scores go from the 21st to the 47th percentile, meaning that the children of poor, often illiterate, Spanish-speaking farmworkers have nearly reached the national average for suburban white kids from middle-class English-speaking families. In stark contrast, neighboring Vista Unified, a district of similar size and demography that stubbornly kept most of its kids in bilingual classes, watched most immigrant scores fall this past year.

English immersion’s dramatic California success has broken through the silence and misinformation that has long surrounded America’s disastrous 30-year bilingual-ed experiment. Newspapers from coast to coast, including the New York Times, trumpeted the results; television networks showed Hispanic children who didn’t speak a word of English at the school year’s start now reading, writing, and speaking English fluently after just nine months’ immersion. Now Arizona stands poised to abolish its segregated bilingual classes in a statewide ballot initiative this November.

Will this wave of English instruction reach New York City, where 150,000 immigrant kids remain imprisoned in bilingual ed? Indications are that the New York press would now fully support a shift to English immersion. More important, doing away with the bilingual-ed system resonates with the vast majority of New Yorkers, many of whom are just a couple of generations removed from the old country. Several recent Zogby polls have found that between 75 percent and 80 percent of New York residents support a requirement that public school teaching be entirely in English. The support crosses ethnic and ideological lines, so it’s a political no-brainer.

Unfortunately, New York City schools currently operate under a 1974 consent decress that forces all Spanish-speaking public school kids to receive their instruction in Spanish. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani should go to court to get this order lifted. The gift of English to his Hispanic constituents’ children would be a truly lasting legacy.

(Republished from City Journal by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Bilingual Education 
Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Ron Unz Comments via RSS