Let's drain the swamp: `Yes' on Question 2
A Boston Herald editorial
Sunday, October 27, 2002
It's amazing that the teachers unions think their best argument against Question
2 - which would require that all public
school students be taught mostly in English (saving the native tongue for
special help) - to put before the public on
the November ballot is that some teacher might somehow, somewhere, someday get
Question 2 is the best hope yet for draining the swamp that bilingual education
has become, and teachers are posing
as victims? Spare us.
The proposed law would permit civil suits by parents only for ``repeated and
willful'' failure to obey the law - exactly
the same provision found in the California and Arizona versions of the statute.
That's a tall hurdle for any plaintiff. No
teacher in California or Arizona has been sued. But it's important that parents
have some recourse because the
Department of Education has been so lax in holding districts to the requirements
of the failed 1971 law.
In his informative series on bilingual education last week, Herald reporter Ed
Hayward noted that current law is
supposed to keep students in ``transitional'' bilingual classes (where
instruction in academic subjects is supposed to be
in the native language) for three years at most. Yet 7,600 students - more than
a fifth - have been in bilingual classes
more than four years; in other words, for five or more years.
That's another way of saying there are 7,600 real victims of a ``separate but
Opponents have spread horror stories about how this or that program would be
ended if Question 2 passed. But the
measure provides ample flexibility for exceptions if parents request and the
school staff agrees they are appropriate.
Opponent also say students in California and Arizona have not benefited. But
here's the telling evidence of
improvement: Before the California reforms, only 21 percent of Latino students
scored at or above the statewide
median in reading; three years later, 35 percent did. For math, it was 27
percent before and 46 percent three years
later. (If any group matches the state as a whole, 50 percent of the group will
hit or exceed the statewide median.)
And then there's the argument that a law passed this year provides all the
reform needed. But all attempts to pass
similar reforms before were blocked by the advocacy lobbies and their political
allies. The new law should remain as
a backup, but the work of the real reformers - without whose initiative petition
the new law never would have been
taken seriously - deserves to be given a fair trial first.
Poll after poll shows that parents overwhelmingly want their children taught in
English. Reporter Hayward's series
shows how poorly these children are being educated now.
Parents know what teachers have forgotten: When you are in a hole, the first
thing to do is stop digging. The children
deserve to be delivered from the clutches of a failed system. The Herald
strongly urges a ``Yes'' vote on Question 2.