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Bilingual Education
by Risajena

"Bilingual education" is the provision of public school classes in a student's native language, separate from the "normal" courses. In the US, the Bilingual Education Act requires that bilingual classes be available in districts where a certain percentage of the school population speaks another language at home. Expressly in the face of that law, Californians just voted to eliminate bilingual education.

The debate over bilingual education continues, especially for the many of us who live in cities that are ports of entry for new immigrants. Clearly, it is in the country's best interest to educate immigrants, and make their children employable, so that they will grow up to be assets to the community rather than a drain on public resources. A multilingual citizen is a valuable asset. Is bilingual education the way to produce such citizens?

Many now see that the law, though well-meant on the outside, is subtly, and unexpectedly racist within -- with the unwanted result of keeping immigrant children separate. It is said that bilingual courses hinder an immigrant student's ability to learn English. And, if they don't learn English, then they almost certainly will remain separate from the general society, and unable to contribute to the community as a participant and wage earner.

On the other hand, just think of having to take even your favorite high school course in a brand new language, and then you can understand the attraction of bilingual programs. Nevertheless, there is now evidence that bilingual programs keep students producing scores that are substandard to their English-only counterparts.

Obviously, there are no bilingual universities in America, so if they learn their academics in their native languages, these immigrant students will have practically no chance to get into college. Parents do have a choice, but in my school, I know the bilingual program is a hard sell, often difficult to resist.

You do not have to be anti-immigrant to know that bilingual education needs to be fixed. But, should it be eliminated entirely? Join the discussion on
My Two Cents.


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