Monday, August 29, 2005

Bush and Bilingual Education

USA Today reports that the Bush administration is trying to sweep a two-year study on bilingual education under the rug because it doesn't agree with the results. According to the article, the National Literacy Panel, a group of university researchers, called into question the effectiveness of English-only classes for immigrant children. The findings of the study, although backed up by a lot of research, apparently challenges the view of some conservatives that all education in the U.S. should be in English.

It's terrible that Bush is letting politics (about immigration and cultural issues, not education) get in the way of finding the best way to educate immigrant children. But this article got me thinking about a mother who received an invitation for her 8 year old son to attend a school with a dual language program in New York City. The mother, an immigrant from South America that doesn't speak any English (the kid does), was dead set against having her kid take any classes in Spanish, and I have heard a lot of immigrant parents say the same thing about bilingual education. They want their kids to have the most opportunities possible, and think that taking any longer to really learn English will set the kids back.

I also know that a lot of immigrant parents do support bilingual education and dual language programs, and I hope the debate over bilingual education will be played out between both groups of parents alongside informed research that can help them decide what is the best for their children. Right-wing anti-immigrant groups shouldn't be calling the shots.


NYC Educator said...

I'm shocked you would accuse President Bush of distorting the truth. Next, you'll be saying he hires fake reporters, distributes fake news, and bribes columnists to plug his education policies.

sanchem said...

As a Californian, our state's experience with bilingual education was disasterous: the kids were left without the ability to speak either language properly, much less master the curriculum. Moreover, I worry about too many children identifying more with their "mother" country than with their adopted land -- Britain's recent problems with its homegrown radical muslim population shows the dire pitfalls of not insisting on a minority population being educated about the values of their adopted country. Moreovver, the Bush administration is wise to not adopt too quickly a report put together by academics -- unti lthe report is thoroughly studied for possible bias and the results replicated.