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Thoughts on Bilingual Education

July 12, 1986

Your editorial (June 24), "Bilingual-Education Boost," reeks of intellectual shallowness, truncated logic and a "Danny Do-Good" view of what is going on in many classrooms.

Why, oh, why, don't you ask some of the more than 300 teachers in the Santa Ana Unified School District how much of a failure the present bilingual education law is? Why don't you ask some of the more than 200 teachers of the Garden Grove Unified School District the degree of failure for the native language, usually Spanish, bilingual program? Why don't you ask Brenda Baricza of Salinas, about how the bilingual program discriminates against her son who speaks English as his native language? Why haven't you talked with Dr. Robert Rossier or Gloria Tuchman or Bettie Howser, people who can easily point out the widespread failures across the public school landscape of native-language bilingual education. Why don't you talk with Chris Simmons of Burbank or Ena Garcia of Glendale about the reasons they believe that native-language bilingual education is neither bilingual nor educational?

How is it possible for you to defend so-called bilingual education when even you admit in your own editorial that, and I quote, "there is no comprehensive report concerning the results of bilingual education in California"? Over the last three years of membership in English Language Advocates, a group of teachers, administrators, and parents concerned with the failure of native-language bilingual education, I have heard a steady stream of teachers who support the bilingual ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for students. We clearly need this for our new immigrant kids and native-language-speaking aides in every classroom to help. On the other hand, teaching kids in Spanish and, later, in English has received an almost unanimous vote of failure.

Vietnamese, Koreans, Chinese, and Japanese immigrant students have teachers who don't teach in their native languages and they are making terrific academic progress. Parents and tutors at home and in the classroom are helping.

Spanish-speaking students have had their English-language skills badly stunted and slowed in grade-level development by the "do-gooders" who continue to teach totally in Spanish. If the East Asians can be class valedictorians in many Orange County high school graduating classes, I believe that Spanish-speaking kids, taught in English and helped by native-language aides and parents in the classroom and at home, can certainly be as successful as anyone else.

God help the English-speaking kid who is dumped into a bilingual classroom. Parents should get their kids out of the bilingual program as quickly as possible by demanding an English-only, non-bilingual class for their child. Bilingual program administrators have often contrived to keep kids in this program. The more kids that are in, the bigger the budget.

Assembly Speaker Willie Brown's (D-San Francisco) bill (AB 2813) must be defeated. It deserves the governor's veto. If it passes, this would mean five more years of failure for Spanish-speaking kids.


Fountain Valley

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