Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Parents Hate Bilingual Ed

From the New York Times:

On a sultry night in late June, when the school term was nearly over, two dozen parents gathered in a church basement in Brooklyn to talk about what a waste the year had been. Immigrants from Mexico and the Dominican Republic, raising their children in the battered neighborhood of Bushwick, they were the people bilingual education supposedly serves. Instead, one after the other, they condemned a system that consigned their children to a linguistic ghetto, cut off from the United States of integration and upward mobility...

For years, bilingual education coasted along on its perception as a virtual civil right for Hispanics. Maybe such a reputation was deserved 30 years ago, when the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund sued and won a consent decree requiring that New York City offer bilingual education. But as the innovation hardened into an orthodoxy, and as a sort of employment niche grew for bilingual educators and bureaucrats, the idealistic veneer began to wear away.

The grievances of Bushwick's parents point at an overlooked truth. The foes of bilingual education, at least as practiced in New York, are not Eurocentric nativists but Spanish-speaking immigrants who struggled to reach the United States and struggle still at low-wage jobs to stay here so that their children can acquire and rise with an American education, very much including fluency in English.

I have a feeling that these parents concerns are going to be ignored once more.


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