In New York City, Chancellor of Schools Carmen Farina is pushing for increased bilingual program options in the NYC school system, insisting that the city’s increased English-language-learning student population calls for bigger and better (read: more expensive) strategies.
In the end, it’s just the same old tired song and dance from big government liberals who want to throw money at a problem until it solves itself. This can be excused in cases where the solutions are unclear, but this is not one of those cases. Bilingual education has been an abject failure for the last thirty years, and the problem is only getting worse as more immigrants find themselves in American schools.
These programs, though, are the worst thing possible for Hispanic children trying to learn a new language. In many cases, they create a perpetual segregation where the kids never master the English skills they need to effectively participate in society after graduation. Worse, they then raise kids who are similarly segregated, creating something previously unheard of in American life: a generation of natural-born American citizens who don’t speak English.
The salvation for these children is exactly the opposite of what Farina and other liberals suggest. English immersion programs are based around the common sense idea that trying to teach a kid math, science, and social studies before teaching them English is a fool’s game. Instead, the best of these programs set aside a full year for nothing but English instruction. Beyond a year, if necessary. On average, according to the studies, kids end up achieving English fluency in roughly two years. Once sufficiently skilled in the language of the country, they can move on to the other subjects.
The argument is that this is going to put the ESL kids behind. While undeniably true, they fall behind in the bilingual programs as well. At least with English immersion, the kids have a chance.
For some bizarre reason, this is a controversial notion. A survey done by the READ Institute found that 81% of Hispanics wanted their children to learn English as quickly as possible while only 12% wanted them to be taught in Spanish. Even with the very community calling for English immersion, schools and politicians are afraid to make the choice. Why could that be?
They argue that it’s disrespectful to the culture to insist that these kids learn English in a systematic, prioritized way. Sorry, but that’s a no-go. It’s not the business of a public school to maintain cultural integrity. You can do that on your own time.
Maybe the real reason is that schools get money for every Spanish-speaking student they enroll. Maybe politicians are less afraid of cultural backlash and more afraid of having some of those tax dollars slip away. Maybe…just maybe…Democrats know that the more quickly Hispanic children learn English, the more likely they’ll be to realize they don’t have to depend on the federal government.
And we can’t have that. No bueno.