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Bilingual Education

October 09, 1985

Secretary Bennett is right: Bilingual education is a dismal failure. All non-English-speaking children should be taught in English, with native language back-up if needed.

The gap between what leaders say and what parents want is very real. Parents of Spanish-speaking children have been cowed and coerced into going along with native language instruction.

My own view is that if the gringos had set out to devise a plan to keep the Mexicans down, they could not have come up with one more devastatingly effective than bilingual education; i.e., teaching kids in Spanish.

The problem is urgent and requires immediate attention, especially in Los Angeles where more than half the school children are of Hispanic origin. We need to find out what parents really want. After all, they have the greatest stake in the effective education of their children. To those who argue that parents don't know what is best for their children, I say, "Hogwash!"

Development of a sound and effective education policy requires public participation and involvement. For Spanish-speaking parents this means participation free from patronizing "guidance and interpretation."

FELIX CASTRO

Los Angeles

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