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Bill to end ban on bilingual education hurts immigrant kids
by Rosalie Pedalino Porter
SB1174, passed by the California Legislature and now on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, undermines all the gains made during the past two decades in educating children who start school without a full knowledge of the English language. The measure places a question on the November 2016 ballot that gives parents the choice to enroll their child in bilingual education.
Bilingual education is the practice of teaching non-English-speaking children in their native language while they are learning English. The idea is to teach school subjects in the child’s first language. Yet decades of research shows this well-intentioned approach is an utter failure.
An “English for the Children” referendum (Proposition 227) passed in 1998 with 60 percent of the vote. Since then, improvements have been reported in the learning of English and in academic success by this group of children, who make up almost half of California’s public school enrollment.
Before Prop. 227, English-language learners were segregated by language and ethnicity most of the school day, separated from English speakers for three to six years. State reports showed no benefit to the students from being taught in their native language. It even resulted in a protest by Mexican American parents in Los Angeles who demanded that their children be taught English much more quickly.
This proposed law makes no sense. Encouraging all California children to learn another language or to develop fully the language of their homes is a laudable goal. But this goal must not be the basis for destroying the English immersion programs now in place that give the greatest opportunity to English-language learners. These are two different issues that deserve to be addressed individually.
To read the rest of the article, please click here.
Arizona student fights for English only at college as law requires
Student fights back after school punishes her for insisting law be obeyed
It has been almost a year since Terri Bennett, a nursing student at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz., asked school administrators to ensure that students speak English in her class so she could properly ask questions and learn the subject matter.
Yet after making that reasonable request, she says the director of the nursing program called her a “bigot” and other vicious names. Then she was later slapped by the college with a nine-month suspension.
It is incredible to think that this can happen in the United States, where the motto “E Pluribus Unum — “Out of many, one” — has been the traditional assimilation model for everyone who seeks to be an American united by our common English tongue.
It is happening more and more, with the Bennett case being one of the most egregious examples to date.
Ms. Bennett was assigned to student and laboratory projects, and was often the only English speaker in her group. She felt excluded and found the learning environment outright hostile to English speakers.
Why would the taxpayer-supported institution tolerate such an atmosphere? Why did it react with such hostility toward her? Administrators even humiliated the nursing student in front of classmates by serving her with suspension papers and having police escort her off of the campus.
The ball started rolling last July 13 when the college was served with a complaint seeking administrative review. Two days later, a complaint seeking monetary damages against the school was filed on behalf of Ms. Bennett in Superior Court in Tucson.
In late August, Pima Community College filed a response, denying any wrongdoing and even claiming that the student was at fault. So unless the school changes its position, the Bennett case is ready for trial.
The Arizona Constitution — the state’s most fundamental set of laws — is as clear as day: “Representatives of government in this state shall preserve, protect and enhance the role of English as the official language of the government of Arizona.”
Not only did the state-run and publicly funded Pima Community College fail to protect the use of English in the classrooms, it blatantly violated the very next provision of Arizona’s Constitution: “A person shall not be discriminated against or penalized in any way because the person uses or attempts to use English in public or private communication.”
Ms. Bennett sought nothing more than a classroom environment where all students regardless of their backgrounds could communicate freely with each other and without barriers in their quest for learning.Read the rest of the article here.
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