With regard to "Largely Latino School Being Closely Watched for Reaction to Immersion" (Aug. 8), the concluding paragraphs were startling. Is it true that the state has set first-grade standards for language arts (reading and writing) as follows: By the end of the first grade, students would be expected to "read aloud with fluency in a manner that sounds like natural speech" and "write brief expository descriptions of a real object, person, place or event, using sensory details"?
As a former substitute teacher who went from school to school teaching lower grades, it was rare to find even a third-grader "reading fluently in a manner like natural speech" or even a fourth-grader who could write "expository descriptions using sensory details."
If Latino first-graders can't conform to these pretentious standards, does this mean immersion has failed? Or is this just another example of the educational establishment's fondness for pompous prose--prose that doesn't match up with performance.
When I was still in the classroom, about 15 years ago, the bilingual business was starting. There was a meeting with some erstwhile coordinator. He saw a good thing coming, for there was a lot of money around for this program. I asked a question about why we were dismantling the good English as a Second Language program. This was going to make second-class citizens out of these children. My principal, who didn't want to make waves, told me quietly to shut up or leave the meeting.
All the executives who are unhappy about dismantling the program are making big bucks and will most likely lose their jobs. The teachers who are making $5,000 a year more for this program are also unhappy, as are the book companies that loaded the system down with bilingual material. We get down to basics--money.
As a result of Prop. 227, teachers in the most culturally diverse city in the U.S. are "gesturing" to make themselves understood to their non-English-speaking students (Aug. 4). I have a gesture for those who thought Prop. 227 was a good idea.
LINDA K. JAMENTZ