Arizona: Encyclopedia provides comprehensive look at bilingual education

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Oct 29 23:32:27 UTC 2008

Encyclopedia provides comprehensive look at bilingual education

A new encyclopedia of well-researched, non-technical articles edited
by Arizona State University Professor Josué M. González is being
hailed as a first-stop reference for accepted knowledge in the
controversial and dynamic field of bilingual education. González is a
professor of educational leadership and policy studies with the Mary
Lou Fulton College of Education and an internationally known expert in
bilingual education. When contacted two years ago by Sage Reference
books to edit the 2008 Encyclopedia of Bilingual Education, he said he
realized the two-volume project provided an opportunity to compile the
best research on the highly politicized and often emotionally charged
subject of bilingual education.

"I wanted to get this story out. It's not ambiguous. It's not
apolitical. The field itself is very political, so we wanted to
reflect that," said González, who also is director of the Southwest
Center for Education Equity and Language Diversity within the Fulton
College. The center focuses on policy analysis and scholarship in
bilingual and dual-language education.

The encyclopedia links bilingual education to its many areas of direct
socio-cultural impact, including issues of language and literacy,
diversity, education equity, and the effects of shifting demographics
across the United States.

"This reference will be a valuable tool for anyone seeking the
research behind bilingual education and the implications of current
national policies on student achievement among English language
learners," said George W. Hynd, senior vice provost for education and
innovation and dean of the Fulton College.  "Josué González has
written and lectured extensively in the field, and his work with the
Southwest Center for Education Equity and Language Diversity is
crucial as immigration and bilingual education issues continue to rise
to the political forefront in the U.S."

González selected expert authors as contributors for the project from
a wide range of disciplines including applied linguistics, politics,
civil rights, history and education. He also developed a unique
journalistic style, using essays rather than traditional encyclopedic
entries, as a way to communicate with lay readers. It is designed to
be a first-stop library reference with cross-references to related
works and bibliographic entries of more in-depth research. In total,
the encyclopedia contains over 300 articles and 1,000 pages of text.

González, an early innovator in bilingual and dual-language education,
served as the first director of the Office of Bilingual Education and
Minority Language Affairs during former President Jimmy Carter's
administration. He has served on several advisory commissions engaged
in the field and has been President of the National Association for
Bilingual Education.

Bilingual education has figured prominently throughout González' life.
He was born in Texas within walking distance of the Mexican border
and, because he had Spanish-speaking teachers, he assumed bilingualism
was the norm.

"I've been bilingual all my life, so essentially I've been in this
field for more than 60 years," he noted. Throughout his career as a
language teacher, academic researcher and leader of discourse about
bilingual education policies, González has questioned the role of
language in education. He has seen school curricula shift from
bilingual programs that inspired students and teachers to succeed
academically to the implementation of laws such as Proposition 203
(English for Children), which made bilingual education illegal in
Arizona, and criminalized undocumented immigration to the United

"At ASU we have an outstanding body of expertise in the field. We are
loaded for bear at a time when the demand for bilingual education
teachers has waned somewhat, at least in Arizona. Other states are
still looking for bilingual education teachers and have a rising
demand," he said. "The families who benefit from bilingual education
tend not to be politically active or even speak English, so they don't
have a way of expressing their interest in having the program to serve
their children."

González argues that the role of language in education supports human
development, intergroup relations and respect for other cultures. Yet
he believes the public doesn't grasp the depth of professional
knowledge underscoring bilingual education because it is so highly
politicized that it becomes distorted as anti-American. He also said
journalists have written narrowly on the subject and haven't fully
informed the public, which is why he envisioned his audience for the
encyclopedia as a young journalist assigned to write a deadline piece
on bilingual education.

González said indigenous languages disappear every year and linguists
have determined that English, Chinese and Spanish are the top three
languages in the world. He said the Internet has had a profound effect
on language choice because more and more people use English to
navigate the World Wide Web.

"In the American Southwest we already use two of these languages
widely, but English is pandemic. It's the language of the universe.
We're beaming it into outer space. The pervasive nature of English
will continue because it's all over the world, but we're the only
country that believes things would be better if we only concentrated
on English to the exclusion of all other languages. It's a very
retrograde view," he said.

"We don't know how to teach languages in this country, even our own,"
he added. "Each year there are more people who don't speak English,
and we can't teach them fast enough, so it looks to the casual
observer as if some people are refusing to speak English."

Because ASU is an epicenter of knowledge in the field of bilingual
education, González tapped many of his colleagues for their
contributions to the encyclopedia along with other national and
international experts. "We have a tremendous knowledge base with
experts in linguistics, language, language methods and ESL at ASU," he

ASU faculty and staff who contributed to the Encyclopedia of Bilingual
Education include: Professor Alfredo J. Artiles; Assistant Professor
Cathy A. Coulter; Christian Faltis, interim associate director for
research and graduate studies; Eugene E. Garcia, vice president for
education partnerships; Professor Stella K. Hadjistassou; Professor
Sarah Hudelson; Associate Professor Faryl Kander; Associate Professor
Jeff MacSwan; Professor Teresa L. McCarty; Professor Carlos J. Ovando;
Associate Professor Kellie Rolstad; Assistant Professor Mary Eunice
Romero-Little; Associate Professor Karen Smith; Pauline Stark,
administrative associate, and Elsie M. Szecsy, associate research
professional, Southwest Center for Education Equity and Language
Diversity; Denis Viri, associate research professional, Center for
Indian Education; and Professor Terrence G. Wiley, director of the
Division of Educational Leadership & Policy studies.

Current and former graduate students who also contributed include:
Jorge A. Aguilar, Valentina Canese, Mario Castro, James Cohen, Gerda
De Klerk, Bryant T. Jensen, Eric Johnson, Hye Jong Kim, Kathleen King,
Ha Lam, Mengying Li, Na Liu, Kara T. McAlister, Sarah Catherine Moore,
Silvia C. Nogueron, Chanyoung Park, Yun Teng, Larisa Warhol, Miku
Watanade, and Jinning Zhang.

Verina Palmer Martin, verina.martin at
Associate Editor, Mary Lou Fulton College of Education

N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list