I am writing in response to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown's (D-San Francisco) recent speech given in Anaheim to 5,000 bilingual educators as well as to comment on the current debate surrounding bilingual education.
I have never been so outraged as I was after I read the comments by Brown. I am a 20-year-old political science student at Cal State Fullerton. I am Latino and entered school in California not knowing a word of English. I went to Bryson Avenue School in South Gate, a heavily Latino-populated school. I went through elementary school without the bilingual education program and graduated from private high school with honors. I am now in college and work part time for a state legislator.
Many of my friends who are a year younger than I were the first to be required to take bilingual education. They had trouble with English throughout school and many became dropouts. I believe the reason they become dropouts and why this program does not work is because it is much easier to learn one language at a time.
I learned to speak and write English within one year because I had no choice. This compares to the six years of learning it took my friends, who by that time were so far behind in their entire curricula that it was too late to expect them to succeed.
Bilingual education is a crutch and a hindrance to students, and it does not help students--it ruins their lives.