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Bilingual Education Pros and Cons

December 26, 1996

It is always hard to find a person who makes a lot of sense. Carol Jago ("English Only--for the Kids' Sake," Commentary, Dec. 18) describes a growing problem and suggests a solution that is long overdue. I am an immigrant student who arrived in the United States at a very early age. Back then, there were no ESL, LEP, ELL classes for students whose first language was not English. All of my classes were in English including science, math and social studies. I must admit that it was hard to understand the teacher; however, as time went by I began to understand the classes little by little to the point that English became a way of life.

The key was that my teachers never gave me any special treatment. I was treated no differently than the Anglo student sitting next to me, and we both struggled the same in math and science. If the school district keeps treating immigrant students like second-class citizens by teaching them in their native language, then the challenge to succeed is gone.

The time has come to realize that ESL classes are hampering the student's abilities rather than assisting in the child's education. We have to trust our kids' capabilities of learning, and it is our duty to prepare them for the challenges ahead. English is necessary in our society, and it should be no different in school.

SERGIO CERON

Los Angeles

* Amen! If Sacramento would listen to Jago and Janet Lee Davis (letter about reading curriculum, Dec. 18), there would be no need for the current excuses and finger-pointing. With answers so obviously correct, why doesn't Sacramento listen?

LARRY SEVERSON

Fountain Valley

* Douglas Lasken (letter, Dec. 6) contends that the public does not understand what "redesignation" means. Lasken is the one who has not yet understood the instructional process in the Los Angeles Unified School District for limited-English-proficient students.

The Master Plan for English Learners places learning English as the primary goal of all programs. All master plan models accomplish this goal and meet the academic learning needs of our linguistically rich and diverse student population. In all programs, students begin learning English on the first day of school and continue adding more and more English instruction until all instruction is in English.

A student who has redesignated to the fluent-English-proficient status has demonstrated that he is competent to participate in an all-English program of instruction. Standardized test results for redesignated students show continued improvement.

As a result of our services for English learners, 26,000 students met English academic criteria and moved into mainstream English classes last year. Careful examination will show former limited-English-proficient students giving valedictorian speeches on graduation day, while others prepare for their first semester at universities such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale and UC.

CARMEN N. SCHROEDER

Assistant Supt., Language

Acquisition and Bilingual

Development Branch, LAUSD

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