Acuna makes a valid point in saying that the needs of Latino students are neglected in the LAUSD. But to characterize "bilingual education" as inherently good simply because it is targeted at Latinos, and to characterize LEAD (Learning English Advocates Drive) as "English-only," indicates a lack of research into both subjects.
The LAUSD's Bilingual Master Plan is neither a format for learning English, nor a true "bilingual" program, but a monolingual Spanish program. Under the new plan, most Latino students are taught in Spanish for all but 20 minutes of the day, and can graduate high school without ever demonstrating proficiency in English.
LEAD, a nonprofit organization of concerned teachers, parents and education experts across the country, is dedicated to reforming--not eliminating--bilingual education by emphasizing modern English language development techniques. Not only does LEAD recommend that the native tongue of non-English speaking children be used to clarify difficult new words and concepts, whenever possible and appropriate, as English is being learned, it actively promotes foreign language study for monolingual English-speaking students.
Moreover, no officer of LEAD ever made the statements Acuna attributed to it. For what it's worth, I am bilingual, and I never learned a second language by being taught exclusively in English.
Acuna neglects to mention national surveys which indicate that 80% of Latino parents of limited-English speaking children believe bilingual program emphasis should be placed on teaching English.
The days of sink-or-swim can never be allowed to return, but neither should Latino children be abandoned in an institutionalized underclass simply because of an inability to communicate effectively in English upon entering the American public education system. The real civil rights travesty is to deny children the tools they will need to function in our nation's 96% English-speaking business community.
President, Santa Clarita Valley
Chapter of LEAD