English immersion study shows a clear superiority
Arizona Republic, May 10, 2003
Ginny Kalish's attack on Johanna Haver and myself requires a response
("Not all kids learn the same," Letter, May 2).
The most recent and comprehensive study of English immersion vs. bilingual
education is in the winter 2002 edition of Education Next, a magazine published
by Harvard, Stanford and two research institutions (www.educationnext.org). It
found that English immersion students outperformed bilingual education in that
(1) they had more years of schooling; (2) more of them entered college; (3) they
had a higher average income; and (4) they exceeded the bilingual students in
entry into high-status occupations by almost 2 to 1.
I have been in a number of English immersion schools where at least 85 percent
of the students become orally proficient in English in one year, and fully
proficient in reading and writing within three years. Leonard Basurto, director
of Arizona's largest bilingual program, testified at the Legislature that in a
bilingual program, it takes seven years for a student to become proficient in
English. A student who came to the United States at age 12 would graduate from
high school without ever becoming proficient. That any one would try to
perpetuate a program that takes seven years to bring students to English
proficiency is scandalous.
Contrary to Ms. Kalish's letter, I have issued no "new interpretations" of the
waiver process. An e-mail dated Sept. 19, 2002, documents that the professionals
in the department under my predecessor concluded that students scoring "limited"
knowledge of English on the relevant test did not qualify for the waiver, which
requires a "good working knowledge of English."
All I did was issue guidelines, required by legislation (the requirement
ignored by my predecessors for three years), that indicated
that we would monitor and enforce a conclusion that was required by the language
of the law, and that was set forth in writing by the professionals in the
department under my predecessor.
The writer is Arizona's superintendent of public instruction.