[EDLING:969] Education in English

Francis M Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Sat Sep 10 17:47:22 UTC 2005

> >From Accuracy in Media
> Education in English Please!
> By Steve Lilienthal    September 9, 2005
> Few high school principals would have time to become fluent in Spanish if
> they were spending their time managing their schools.  The Board of
> Trustees of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD)  voted 5-4 last
> month to require that some school administrators must be fluent in Spanish
> or lose their jobs. Advocates of English as the primary language of our
> country took exception to the new policy proposed in May. Mauro E. Mujica,
> Chairman of U.S. English, argued that the DISD Board instead should
> emphasize teaching Hispanic parents basic English, the most important
> skill needed to advance in this country. Mujica is no immigrant basher,
> having immigrated to the United States from his native Chile. He is fluent
> in four languages. U.S. English argued that the DISD mandate ignored the
> fact that some students in the school district, or their parents, are
> foreign born but not Hispanic. Some Dallas residents were born in Korea
> and Vietnam. The DISD Board of Trustees has not required that school
> administrators be fluent in Korean or Vietnamese.
> Immigration is a hot-button issue in the United States. So are the
> ancillary issues, such as that confronting the Dallas School System. The
> new school policy is as a red flag is to a bull, inviting politicians and
> community leaders to seek TV cameras so they can speak before television
> cameras in support of, or opposition to, the Board decision. Immigrant
> rights groups would be galvanized. So would some Americans who want more
> restrictions on immigration. School Board Trustee Joe May proposed the new
> policy. May argued that the requirement for school administrators to be
> bilingual is needed. The policy would help DISD school administrators to
> communicate with Spanish-speaking parents and get parents involved in
> their children's education.
> While this might sound impressive to some, Rossi Walter, President, the
> Dallas Council of PTAs, criticized the proposal. Walter said, "I
> understand the logic and the motivation, and I say that this is crazy[,]
> as someone who is a pretty good language learner." The DALLAS MORNING NEWS
> reported on August 8 that its editorial board found no existing "research
> supporting the idea that a bilingual principal leads to greater parental
> involvement." The newspaper was unwilling to take a stance on the
> proposal, arguing that more study would be required.  Parental involvement
> is desirable, the MORNING NEWS said.
> The Dallas School District concluded in its June study that academic
> performance did not differ significantly in schools with bilingual
> principals and in schools without bilingual principals. One trustee
> commented upon the study. "Requiring principals to speak another language
> doesn't make any difference. . . . This appears on the surface a tactic to
> get more Hispanic-speaking people in leadership positions." The advocacy
> group ProEnglish is contemplating the filing of a lawsuit against the
> School Board. ProEnglish works with the U.S. Congress and state referenda,
> as well as in the courts to defend the role of English as our common
> language.
> Dr. Rosalie Pedalino Porter (naturalized U.S. citizen, author and
> education consultant), ProEnglish Board of Advisors, contends that DISD
> policy is not sensible. She views the decision to be "window dressing."
> Few high school principals would have time to become fluent in Spanish if
> they were spending their time managing their schools. "You are not going
> to get high school principals into a Spanish class for a couple of nights
> a week and expect them to become fluent," Dr. Porter stressed. The DISD
> policy would require that newly hired principals learn Spanish within one
> year of their hiring and that they be fluent in Spanish within three years
> or be terminated. The policy took effect last week and would apply to
> schools in which over 50 percent of students were classified as Limited
> English Proficient (LEP). The Superintendent would determine the fluency
> level and Spanish classes would be provided for the principals.
> Dr. Porter argues in favor of funding education that would improve the
> English skills of non-English speaking parents and children. She
> co-authored the "English Acquisition Program Cost Study" commissioned by
> the Arizona Department of Education in 2001. The study compared levels of
> academic achievement in elementary schools in Nogales, Arizona. Nogales
> elementary schools with Structured English Immersion programs produced
> higher test scores than Nagoles elementary schools with Bilingual
> Education programs. The report stated: Although the report did not set out
> to compare achievement levels across different programs, this is the main
> finding that emerged from the study:  Elementary schools with English
> Immersion teaching produced higher student test scores and tested a much
> higher percentage of their [Limited English Proficiency] students than
> schools using bilingual education methods. In fact, in the schools with
> English Immersion programs, 100 percent of the students took the statewide
> tests each year. The longer the English teaching program was in place, the
> higher the achievement scores of students on the reading, language, and
> math tests in English, a finding that is clearly documented in the
> individual school profiles.
> A report by Dr. Christine H. Rossell, a Boston University political
> science professor, was published in Educational Leadership late last year.
> Dr. Rossell observed that, ". . . schools that had dismantled bilingual
> education showed a small but significant positive effect on reading and
> math achievement." In her opinion students benefit from instruction in
> English. Surprisingly, many foreign-born residents and naturalized
> citizens of our country frown upon a school curriculum requiring bilingual
> education. They reject such requirements for non-English speaking students
> and would reject the bilingual policy for school administrators.
> The Carnegie Corporation in Autumn 2002 surveyed 1,002 foreign-born
> adults. Over 66% of the foreign-born adults agreed that immigrants to the
> United States should be required to learn English. 73% of the foreign-born
> adults interviewed said schools should eliminate bilingual education and
> teach English to immigrants upon arrival in the United States. Over 60% of
> the adults disapproved of bilingual teaching in the schools: all students
> should be taught in English. Dr. Rossell opined that the Dallas School
> District's new requirement would be quite difficult to execute. The DISD
> policy would force school administrators to spend additional hours seeking
> fluency in Spanish. She added that it would be difficult to recruit
> qualified, committed school principals who would produce students who
> tested well, particularly if the students were not proficient in English.
> "The [B]oard," said Rossell, "is just shooting themselves in the foot."
> Children of non-native Americans should learn English to succeed in
> American society. Wise immigrants who want the best for their children
> must, and often do, demand that their children be instructed in English.
> Requiring Spanish fluency for principals might be good politics, helping
> board members and candidates to gain the support of advocates and creating
> a few more jobs for bilingual individuals. The DISD policy would not
> guarantee that test scores would improve or that English literacy would
> improve. The DISD policy could divert principals from their foremost job -
> ensuring schools would run smoothly and achieve desired goals and
> objectives. Forced Spanish instruction would condescend to immigrants,
> saying parents and students from a Latin American background are not
> sufficiently intelligent to learn English.
> That is why several states  California, Arizona and Massachusetts  voted
> to dismantle bilingual education programs. Students in English immersion
> classes consistently proved mandatory bilingual education harmful. More
> emphasis on English  as early as possible  is the best way to help
> students with foreign-born parents to succeed in American society.
> http://www.aim.org/guest_column/3998_0_6_0_C/

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