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The Split Over Bilingual Education

January 17, 2005

Re "Democrats Reject Gov.'s Nominee," Jan. 13: Most children quickly integrated into English-only classrooms when parents chose these after seeing the lack of progress in the bilingual programs of the past. Positive results are evident when seeing children serving as interpreters for parents at clinics, hospitals and businesses.

The rejection of well-respected community leader Reed Hastings to the State Board of Education is most unfortunate. He dared support English-language reading for immigrant children. The backing from the state superintendent of public instruction, business leaders, California Teachers Federation, charter schools and others could not outweigh the advocates of bilingual education.

Hastings was accused of not showing enough empathy for Latin parents' concerns. Really? Where would Latin lawmakers Martha Escutia, Don Perata and Gil Cedillo be today had they been mired in ill-conceived bilingual programs and not learned the necessary English for their careers as state senators?

Eva L. Barcia

Los Angeles

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Bilingual education in California is more often than not monolingual, which means that students who speak Spanish at home are handicapped in not learning the language that is spoken in college, boardrooms and the Congress. If only an hour a day were allotted for real "bilingual" education, then all students in the state would learn Spanish, starting in preschool.

In Europe, most people know more than one language. There is no excuse for Americans to be less educated than Europeans. Learning the language of a neighboring country makes for understanding that culture and alleviating prejudices. Learning a second language early in life leaves room in the brain for learning languages in general.

Bilingual education should not be restricted to college-bound students and children of immigrants. It's time for "mainstream" American students to see there is more than one way to say "freedom," "democracy" and "love."

Mary Jacobs

Los Angeles

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Oh, what a fiasco for the Democrats! Reed Hastings, one the wealthiest and most energetic Democrats in government service, lost his seat on the State Board of Education because he refused to support the voter-discarded bilingual education travesty.

Perata and two other Democratic senators put a knife into the back of one of their own because he wouldn't kowtow to the open-borders lobby, which obviously still wants to teach the children of illegal immigrants in Spanish so they can (theoretically) return to Mexico untainted by our tongue or culture.

This is more proof that crazy people run Sacramento and another boost for the governor's redistricting plan.

T.J. Pierce

San Francisco

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Hastings ran into trouble because of his stand on bilingual education. I find this to be quite troublesome, that a man such as Hastings is being rejected for this reason.

We are a nation of immigrants who, outside of the Pilgrims, who already spoke English, did not speak English on their arrival in this country. The government didn't require those already here to learn Italian, Polish, Yiddish, Russian, Gaelic, etc. Yet these people grew and prospered anyway.

Why is it we are now asked to offer bilingual education? When we go to a foreign country, we must get by in their language. When the governor came here, did he have bilingual help in German? I think not.

I don't think it is too much to ask that, if you are here and making use of what this country has to offer, then speak English.

Stephen Hariton

Westlake Village

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