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Latino Immigrant Education Levels

July 14, 1996

* In Frank del Olmo's analysis of the disparity between Latino and other immigrant groups in education and later success and failure (Commentary, July 8), he neglects to mention the single largest difference between Latinos and other groups: bilingual education. Bilingual education began in the '60s and '70s as a good-hearted effort to engineer a better result for the Latino community, but resulted in an erosion of education in English language skills.

Other immigrant groups, notably Asians, were placed in schools and forced to mainstream in English-only curricula. The result is that their English language skills are better developed and this allows them to succeed at a higher rate, as shown in the Rand study (July 3). As Del Olmo states, the reason for this disparity is not that Latinos are less motivated, or less capable, to succeed. It is because they have been stuck in a failed social program for 30 years.

EDWARD MORRISSEY

Huntington Beach

* The long-awaited Rand study on how immigrants fare over time told anyone familiar with the immigrant experience what they already knew: Most Mexican immigrants don't come to the U.S. to attend higher education schools.

People like my parents, who left Jalisco, Mexico, over 25 years ago, put much of their hope and aspirations in the future of their children and grandchildren. To study immigration mobility by only looking at one generation is to miss the point of what America has always meant for immigrants.

Children fare better than their parents. And their grandchildren will do even better. In my family, for instance, five of seven children have college degrees and two are on the way.

Somewhere in the immigration debate, the idea that Latino immigrants are fundamentally different than previous immigrants took hold. Now we are considered "minorities" and must suffer all the attendant baggage that comes with the term.

YOLANDA CHAVEZ

Los Angeles

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