[EDLING:972] Re: Education in English

david powell dfpowell at TALK21.COM
Mon Sep 12 14:30:03 UTC 2005

The School District of Philadelphia is considering providing ESL classes for parents through the YMCA Language and Technology Center (Pending Funding). The problem had been parents not attending Parent/Teacher Conferences, for lack of English skills. Those who attended often had their children translate, making what was actually translated suspect.
Ironically, ESL students had the fewest academic and classroom behavior issues (from my experience as a teacher).

Francis M Hult <fmhult at dolphin.upenn.edu> wrote:
> >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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