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PLATFORM : Bilingual Education

March 03, 1991|LUIS ACLE JR. | Only 16% of American Latinos go to college, and inability to speak English is often cited as a factor. LUIS ACLE JR., director of Hispanics for English Language Proficiency in San Diego, commented on bilingual education and the importance of English fluency:

In the U.S., a student may graduate from high school without learning how to speak, read and write in English. In New York and New Jersey, students may take the basic skills test for high school graduation in any of 12 languages. How can a student who passes the test in Spanish qualify for college entrance or get a well-paying job in our English-speaking country?

The only solution is to emphasize the early and accelerated acquisition of English. I advocate short, transitional programs. We shouldn't have children learning in their native language for six or 12 years. Two years is reasonable.

But to some people, bilingual education is not an educational program, it's an employment program. Schools get additional funding in direct proportion to the number of children in bilingual programs. So there's a built-in incentive for schools to keep children there and an incentive to keep children from achieving English proficiency.

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