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Thoughts on Bilingual Education

July 12, 1986

It was gratifying to read your editorial on bilingual education, analyzing objectively the problem in California.

What we Californians have to understand is that this is not merely a trivial problem pertaining to a small minority but that it is one that affects adversely all our educational and social structure. If we are to bring these minorities into the productive mainstream of our society, we must educate them through programs that will help them learn English without the traumatic frustrations that promote a high percentage of dropouts. This we must do actively, aggressively and efficiently, instead of using lighthearted measures as in the past.

English IS our official language, and everybody is fully aware that without speaking, reading and writing it fluently, you do not have a chance to be successful to any reasonable degree in our society. Nobody knows this better than the new immigrant, and that is why he is eagerly trying to become proficient in English. But he needs time, since learning a new language is a difficult task that takes years of hard work and practice.

As the old saying goes, "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance." We either educate them now or pay for evermore for their sustenance through welfare or through our penal institutions.

ANTONIO A. MARTINEZ

Mission Viejo

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