Bilingual education gets unfair rap
They conclude that bilingual education
causes lower performance on English standardized tests. But they do not consider
that the bilingual schools
Family income and English proficiency are tightly associated with performance on standardized English tests. To ignore such important omissions when comparing schools' API levels is like "comparing apples to oranges."
In the criticism of the HUSD school board's
reaffirmation of the Master Plan for English Language Learners, the author
argues that bilingually educated children's test scores should "skyrocket past
the 50th percentile." We assume that this is a sarcastic reference to the
well-proven fact that in well implemented bilingual programs, non-English
proficient children eventually catch up to the grade level norms established by
We agree with the writer and with the Master
Plan that the children in our HUSD bilingual program should achieve grade-level
norms in English after
We know from the results of the Spanish language SABE test that most of our students in bilingual education are learning well in reading, writing and math, and we know that it typically takes from five to seven years for these skills learned in Spanish to transfer to grade level performance in English. But to blame the low API ratings of our secondary schools on bilingual education is illogical.
Few of our current secondary school students are products of five to seven years of any bilingual program. In fact, the Master Plan was only adopted in HUSD in June of 2000, and the expansion of a bilingual program in most of our elementary schools is less than four years old.
We urge the article's author and all others
who want to see our bilingually educated students achieve "with flying colors"
to join with us in demanding the full implementation of the HUSD Master Plan so
that the families who choose bilingual education for their children can expect
the required number of fully competent bilingual teachers in every school, who
will have the necessary books and materials and administrative support to teach
their children the curriculum standards in BOTH languages, so that we can
produce a new generation of biliterate, bicultural individuals to lead the city
of Hayward into the future.
Miriam Warren and Rafael Flores are co-chairmen of the Hayward Education Association Bilingual Caucus.