Letters And Editorials 
(Apr 8, 2000 - Aug 20, 2000)

The Claim That Test Scores Went Up Due To Prop 227 Is False
To the NY Times Editor
by Dr. Chris Boosalis, Dr. Stephen Krashen, Dr. Jill Kerper Mora,   Aug 20, 2000

Distortions abound in the recent article on the so-called gains in test scores for English Language Learners ("Increase in Test Scores Counters Dire Forecasts for Bilingual Ban," front page, Aug. 20).

Prior to the passage of Proposition 227, Bilingual programs served a mere twenty percent of the thousands of elementary and secondary students who were identified as non-English speakers in California's public schools (they now serve only thirteen percent), yet these programs were blamed for one hundred percent of the failure of all students to acquire English rapidly. Blaming bilingual education for this situation was unfair. Pure sink-or-swim immersion approaches were the real detriment to a student's acquisition of both English and academic content, given that a full eighty percent of the population had been placed in immersion English classes and learned neither English nor content. Bilingual education programs were mostly innocent; submersion programs were mostly to blame.

Second, University of California researchers have solicited Oceanside many times for data on the numbers of bilingual programs that existed in the district prior to Proposition 227, but the district's leaders have continually refused to release any figures. As such, knowing whether eliminating bilingual programs there accounts for the rise in test scores is impossible; maybe there were no bilingual education programs in Oceanside to eliminate in the first place. Furthermore, maybe the district is only now offering English learners some kind of assistance after years and years of neglect. If this is the case, the newly-developed English development courses (whatever they might be) deserve the credit for the growth that one sees in the test scores described in the article, but not the elimination of bilingual education.

Dr. Chris Boosalis
Department of Teacher Education
California State University - Stanislaus

From: Stephen Krashen

Jacques Steinberg (August 20, 2000) states that the increase in California's SAT9 test scores suggests that Proposition 227, which eliminated bilingual education, was a success.

Using SAT9 scores to evaluate bilingual education is bad science. As Steinberg notes, it is not clear that dropping bilingual education was responsible for these gains, because other changes may also have occurred. Obvious changes include increased test preparation and reduction in class sizes in the lower grades. A less obvious factor is selective testing. A recent article by Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle documented several cases in the Bay Area in which increases in test scores coincided with clear decreases in the number of students tested.

The only way to really determine the effect of bilingual education on English language development is to examine the results of controlled scientific studies. In these studies, groups are compared that differ only with respect to the use of the first language. This research consistently shows that children in properly organized bilingual education programs acquire English at least as well and usually better than children in all-English programs. In addition, students in bilingual programs drop out less.

Stephen Krashen
Professor of Education
University of Southern California

From:  Jill Kerper Mora, Ed.D.
Dear Editor of the New York Times,

It is unfortunate that Jacques Steinberg falls into the trap of superficiality in the article touting the alleged success of California’s Proposition 227 (Increase in Test Scores…” August 17). First, Steinberg accepts the modest gains in standardized test scores in English in three lower elementary grades as evidence of the effects of restrictions on bilingual education. The article does not explain the comparable increases in test scores in among bilingual education students on the Spanish Assessment of Basic Education (SABE/2) that are also part of California’s system of public school accountability (STAR). In reality, what the complete picture provided by the STAR shows is that limited English proficient students who are being taught in their primary language are achieving at or above the national norm in their reading and math skills. This means that they are performing on grade level along with their native English-speaking peers in these essential academic skills. The scores of bilingual education students in English reading and language, meanwhile, are well below grade level, as are the scores of their peers who are learning in English immersion programs. However, we have no indication that students who are receiving instruction only in their second language are sustaining their early gains in English into the upper elementary grades and on into middle school. What we can say for sure based on analysis of the STAR data is that the majority of these students are at greater risk of retention and the need for remedial instruction in their content learning and literacy as they progress through school than their peers whose parents have chosen bilingual instruction.

Steinberg has also failed to report the many research studies by respected policy institutes such as the University of California’s Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) or the Linguistic Minority Research Institute that warn of the negative impact of Proposition 227 on the teaching force and the long-term educational opportunities for language minority students. PACE documents that there are 32% fewer bilingual credentialed teachers in California’s teaching force than before passage of Proposition 227 and 52% fewer bilingual teacher candidates in credential preparation programs. These statistics do not bode well for the prospects for improving education for language minority students, who are currently taught disproportionately by non-credentialed and under-qualified teachers.

The wisdom of a policy of monolingual education for a student population that consists of 37% bilingual learners has not been proven. The law restricting bilingual education was rejected by 39% of California’s voters. There is nothing in the most recent test scores to assuage the concerns of these voters, educators and well-informed policy makers about the long-term negative impact of Proposition 227. Restrictions on language minority parents’ right to choose bilingual education in cooperation with knowledgeable teachers and administrators for their children are bad educational policy and bad language policy for a dynamically linguistically and culturally diverse society. Since neither presidential candidate supports the elimination of bilingual education, it may also prove to be bad politics.

Jill Kerper Mora, Ed.D.
Associate Professor of Teacher Education
San Diego State University

More on Impact of 227

Dear Colleagues,

The New York Times article is just another example of the one-sided and distorted picture of the impact of Proposition 227 in the media. It amazes me that the proponents of English-only instruction are not challenged more frequently and more loudly for their exaggerated claims regarding the SAT 9 test scores. Yes, gains of 9 points over two years for limited English proficient students in second grade are good news. However, claims that these gains are due to the elimination of bilingual education or one year of sheltered English immersion are nothing short of preposterous. Even more dangerous, of course, is the fact that much of the public is being lulled into the belief that the challenges of educating our large and growing population of language minority students have been overcome by an English-only mandate. What we know from respectable studies by PACE and LMRI is that the true story is much more complex and intricate. I have brought out some of these points in this letter to the editor of the New York Times that I share with you.

Currently, only 8% of the teachers in California hold a bilingual credential. Many of the proponents of Proposition 227 openly stated that their intention was to eliminate bilingual teachers from the teaching force. By including draconian legal liabilities and sanctions against bilingual teachers and educators who support bilingual education in the state’s education code, the public has clearly put bilingual individuals on notice that they will not enjoy equal status and equal decision-making power with their monolingual colleagues in the teaching profession.

My sister, the attorney and law professor, has commented on how bizarre these provisions of Prop. 227 are from a legal standpoint. The provisions of Arizona’s 203 are even more extreme and damaging. The Arizona Unz initiative includes a provision whereby teachers sued for language education infractions cannot be indemnified by a third party. This means that teachers cannot obtain any kind of professional liability insurance to protect themselves against lawsuits by parents. My attorney sister explained that such as provision in the law is usually reserved for acts of moral turpitude that are so offensive to public morality as to be almost criminal in nature.

Teachers have traditionally been subjected to very few liability laws, since in teaching and learning it is neigh on to impossible to really determine cause and effect when a child does not achieve. Yet, 227 established liabilities against educators that have already created disincentives for bilingual teachers to remain in teaching or for new candidates to go through the rigorous preparation to become bilingual teachers. If 203 passes in Arizona, can we not predict a similar outcome? Needless to say, these laws are being enacted at a time when we face a growing shortage of teachers and face huge challenges in building a highly qualified teaching force. All of us must speak out against this blatant discrimination against people of color and against our linguistically skilled colleagues. This is the untold story about the impact of Proposition 227.

Jill Kerper Mora, Ed.D.
Associate Professor of Teacher Education
San Diego State University
Website: http://coe.sdsu.edu/people/jmora/

Laws Are Being Passed Marginalizing Teachers
by Ken and Yetta Goodman, Aug.20, 2000

For the past several years those of us concerned about education in Arizona have found ourselves reacting, often when it is too late, to calamitous events seriously damaging public education. Laws have been passed which marginalize teachers, teacher educators and professionals at all levels.

Decision making has shifted from local boards to the legislature and the State Board of Education. State tests have been imposed which raise the stakes impossibly high for most minority youth and even the majority of middle class white pupils. With arbitrary standards created by non-professionals, curriculum has been redefined as teaching to the impossible tests and the arbitrary and capricious standards.

Ken and Yetta Goodman, Tucson, AZ

Anti-Bilingual Proponents Are The Ones Causing Balkanization
by Dorelyn Kunkel, Aug 19, 2000

Let's suppose the southern border was to be shut down cold, and those immigrants already here along with other minorites were to be relegated to the lower social class strata through its institutions and such wedge issues/propositions as those having to do with bilingual ed, affirmative action, keeping immigrants from attending our schools, health benefits, etc.   American society doesn't really believe that US minorities would go back to doing stoop labor jobs too dangerous, hard, and low paying for majority members, does it?  I,  for one, can foresee a lot of social-economic  problems that would be engendered if that were the intent.

We're backsliding as a nation in our relationship to minorities, and no amount of Spanish parlayed by our politicians will keep our American society from re-segregating by choice or no.  This is the very same thing the ultra conservative groups profess they are trying to keep from happening, by the way, and that they started.  Now the trick is for these groups to blame the possible balkanization on the minorities, despite their efforts to integrate into our American society -- a real lose-lose situation.  What a waste of resources!

Anti-Bilingual Prop 203 Not Best For The Students
Arizona Republic, Aug 18, 2000

An article in Wednesday's Republic discussed the lawsuit challenging the Legislative Council's biased explanation of Proposition 203, which would eliminate bilingual education strategies.

Unfortunately, the article ("2 additional initiatives face lawsuits") inaccurately summarized the scope of that initiative. Proposition 203 does much more than require that English language learners be enrolled in an English immersion program for one school year. It prohibits English language learners from receiving any other type of instruction or support.

That's right. Our students must learn English well enough to succeed in our school system after 180 days of English immersion. Teachers would be forbidden to use these students' first language as a tool to help them learn content while they are learning English well enough to grasp new academic concepts (a process that, I assure you, takes more than 180 days). This proposition takes the power of making decisions out of the hands of teachers and parents.

I urge all voters to say no to Proposition 203 and yes to letting teachers and parents decide together what is best for their students, as the present laws allow.

Ginny Kalish, Paradise Valley

No Evidence For English Immersion
Mobile Register Alabama,  Aug. 17, 2000
Stephen Krashen

Contrary to the conclusion stated in the Register (August 17, 2000), there is no evidence that dropping bilingual education was good for children in California.   Just looking at overall test results does not tell us anything about the effect of English imersion. To do this, one needs to compare children who had bilingual education and those who did not.

There was no increase in reading test scores in California that can be attributed to dropping bilingual education.  A  recent report by Stanford University professor Kenji  Hakuta shows that districts that kept bilingual education showed gains on English language tests and districts that never did bilingual education showed gains. Everybody gained.  In addition, the new tests are only two years old. Research has shown that students always score higher each year when new tests are introduced, which is why tests need to be recalibrated every so often.  This general tendency for commercial test scores to increase accounts for half of the increase in grades two and three on the reading test since1998,  and all of the increase in grades four through seven. It also suggests that reading scores in California have actually declined slightly in grades eight through eleven.

The only valid way to determine whether bilingual education works is to do controlled studies, comparing children in bilingual programs and children in all-English alternatives. The results of these studies consistently show that bilingual education is very effective in helping children acquire English.

Stephen Krashen
Professor of Education
University of Southern California

No on Prop. 203
Arizona Republic, August 15, 2000

Backers of Proposition 203, the initiative which would end bilingual education in our state, claim that the law supports parental choice. Parents who don't like "English immersion," supporters say, may apply for a waiver. But read the initiative's fine print, and you'll see an Orwellian spin on "parental choice" that would have made the Kremlin blush.

Just to qualify to apply for a waiver, the parent of an English learner younger than 10 must provide a written statement of no less than 250 words documenting that the child has "physical or psychological needs above and beyond the child's lack of English proficiency." The application, which will be "permanently added to the child's official school records," must also contain the original signatures of the school principal and the local superintendent of schools. Once submitted, it may be rejected "without explanation or legal consequence." How's that for freedom of choice?

By contrast, current law permits schools to offer a variety of programs, including bilingual education and English immersion. Thus, rather than widen options and support, Proposition 203 only serves to take options away from parents and students.

Parental involvement is an important aspect of genuine educational reform. I urge you to vote no on Proposition 203.

Jeff MacSwan, Assistant Professor
College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe

Anti-Bilingual Law Would Destroy Minority Rights
Michael Peralta, April 2000

I feel that the anti-bilingual proposition that is coming up here in Arizona (Prop 203) will be extremely unjust if it passes.

In 1998 California Hispanic voters voted 2 to 1 AGAINST Prop. 227, which eradicated the Bilingual Ed option. (The CNN voter exit poll had a sample size of 5000 and was very statistically significant.)

In other words the majority, who are not affected by the need for Bilingual Ed, trounced on the rights of a minority -- who do have children with the need for bilingual ed. This is very dangerous. Since an initiative approved by a majority can trounce and take away rights from ANY minority.

This is why in the 60's the Supreme Court espoused the philosophy of "Majority rule, but with minority rights."

What's to stop a majority approved initiative to take away Special education for the mentally challenged? What's to stop a majority approved initiative to take away the special facilities (so persistently fought for) from the physically handicapped?

Similiarly, the Anti-Bilingual (Unz) initiative is using the majority (most of which are NOT Hispanic and whose children do not need Bilingual ed) to take away the rights of a Hispanic minority (as well as other language minority groups such as Chinese, Vietnamese, even Russian) who DO NEED the benefits of bilingual education for the academic success of their children.

Even if you do not believe in bilingual ed you should not be taking away this right from the minority parents who do see it benefiting their children. How would you like it if math education, for example, was taken away from your children?

This is more than just bilingual education. This is about protecting the rights of all minority groups or groups with valid and special needs not just in education but in physical needs, and perhaps (if we don't stop this trouncing on minority rights) even in cultural, ethnic, and even in religious freedoms.

WE SHOULD NOT ALLOW THE BALLOT BOX TO BE USED TO SUPPRESS THE RIGHTS OF ANY MINORITY. Besides the harm to the children in need of bilingual education, this is the greatest danger that the Anti-Bilingual initiative carries. It suppresses the rights of a minority, in this case mostly Hispanic parents as well as Native Americans, to get effective education for their children.

Let's again defend the philosophy: "Majority rule, but with minority rights."

The Goals And Logic Behind Prop 227 Have Not Come True
LATimes, Ventura County, Sunday, July 30, 2000

* We are now entering a fresh new school year with new expectations, new hopes and new faces.I wish all the best.

We are also entering the third year of one-yearintensive English immersion. Have the goals and logic behind Proposition 227 come true? No.

Judging by the letter"Bilingual Education" (Ventura Countyletters, July 9), the best argment that can now be made is "This is the United States of America.We speak English here, not Spanish."

Please remember that what started with paid signature collectors asking, "Do you want children to be taught English in schools?"was backed by the assertion that children were being forced into a failing bilingual education, and one year of English would end bilingual education forever.

Three school years later, Ron Unz and his group continue to make the same promises in Arizona, Colorado and other states.He tells the press the same things he said here, but one thing he cannot say is, "It worked in California."

It did not work.One year of intensive English immersion has failed. This failed English immersion can now take on the moniker of mandated status quo.

The students are still here, the California Assoc. for Bilingual Education is still here and parents are coming back to the diffecult-to-obtain waivers because they are seeing, from experience, what works.

We are helping our American society.Taking a phrase from the paid signature collectors, bilingual teachers are teaching English in our schools.We are making students competitive with academic quality English.While the student is achieving this high academic standard, teaching a student in the language the student understands should not be illegal.It works, and two languages are better than one.

Proposition 227 arguments will soon be heard in our state court.The main reason that a stay of Proposition 227 was denied was that the judge stated there was no proof that one year of English immersion would not work. Now we have such proof because our court system is so slow that two sets of one-year intensive English immersion have passed.

How many years must we wait for this failed, politically motived, one-size-fits-all approach to be recognized as the divisive, unconstitutional academic failure it is?

Ventura County Chapter
California Assn. for Bilingual Education

Prop. 227 Has Been An Utter Failure
Stephen Pollard,  August 16, 2000

Prop. 227 has been an utter failure. Children are NOT learning all the English they need in one year as promised and the redesignation rates on average are not any better than before. And what about the $50 million dollars being spent on the parents to learn English. Has there been a rash of new fluent speakers among the parents? No! Prop. 227 is an ill-conceived idea proposed by a bunch of ignorant, incompetent people who are a disgrace to education.The only thing Unz will promote are the test scores. I have children in my class that could easily score that and if you look at children who have passed through my room and have now exited, they would put these new monolinguals to shame. English for the Children Arizona wants to copy a failed program from a state that consistently ranks near the bottom and sometimes the bottom depending on the study used in teaching just about everything.Is this what Arizona wants to emulate? There's another question to ask yourself.

I am growing very tired of this battle.The proof is in the pudding yet it is ignored. [The Politics of ] Education is not about doing what is actually right. It is about doing what feels right and to many it just feels right to teach them all in English and to hell with what respected educators and researchers in the fields in question have to say. It's enough to make me just quit and tell them all they can continue to hurt children but I will not take part any longer. It turns my stomach more than my feeble words could ever express. I admire the people like Dr. Krashen and Dr. Kerper-Mora, Dr. Kathy Escamilla, Dr. Hakuta, Dr. Cummins, Dr. Ramirez, teachers like Priscilla Gutierrez in Colorado, Alejandra Sotomayor and Sal Gabaldon in Arizona and journalist like Jim Crawford who stand up and tell these fools that they're wrong, but for me here in Texas, I have just about reached my limit. The only thing that keeps me going are the kids whom I am supposedly putting at risk.Year after year our bilingual program strengthens yet it is shot in the foot by people who want to do just what feels right and scold me for putting kids at such a disadvantage all the time ignoring empirical evidence.

It is very tiresome. I will not concede defeat, never, but I just might fade away.

From your compatriota en Texas, a very worn down teacher,

Stephen Pollard

Proposition 227 Has Not Lived Up To Its Promise
LATimes, Ventura County, Sunday, August 13, 2000
Bilingual Education Research

* Re "English Immersion and Proficiency," Ventura County Letters, Aug.6.

Amy Allison's response to Denis O'Leary's letter is full of distortions. It gives Proposition 227 the credit for the overall state of California's increase on the SAT 9 test, repeats the falsehood that bilingual education only gives students one hour of English per day and claims that after five years students in bilingual education are not proficient. Here are the facts:

* The overall state SAT 9 gain in English reading is nearly entirely attributable to test inflation that one always sees with standardized tests. In addition, Stanford professor Kenji Hakuta has shown that districts that kept bilingual education also gained. A good example of this is the Ocean View Elementary School District in Oxnard.

* Bilingual programs provide a great deal of English. A UC Riverside study reported that by grade three, students in bilingual education receive 75% of their subject matter teaching in English and by grade five it is 90%.

* Scientific studies that compare bilingual students to all-English immersions show that those in bilingual education do at least as well and usually better in English, and drop out less.

Allison ignores O'Leary's main point: Proposition 227 promised full proficiency in English, enough to do classwork in the mainstream, after only one year. This has not happened. Our analyses show that after one year few immersion students are even ready to handle specially modified instruction.

Professor of Education,
University of Southern California

America's Constitution and Bill of Rights Is The Most Important
Dorelyn Kunkel
Sent To Tucson Citizen
August 13, 2000

In response to the Tucson Citizen's Letter to the Editor entitled "Making Excuses for Children," dtd. Aug 12: Your definition of what it means to be an American doesn't match mine. Speaking English isn't the most important criteria for being an American. America's Constitution and Bill of Rights are just a couple of its real cultural reference points -- not race nor language. As for bilingual education, its goal is to teach English, but that doesn't have to be at the expense of a first language, especially now that it's proven bilingual education works.

Besides, why would you want to eliminate someone's first language, and then try to replace it as a foreign language when a second language is seen as of value. By the way, what is the purpose of the educational establishment and government agencies in all this? Is it to help satisfy the needs of the community through schooling, or is it to eradicate one's first language and impose it with another?

- Dorelyn Kunkel

Why Prop 203 Is A Bad Idea
Jeff MacSwan, Aug 13, 2000

Kids learn more when they can understand what the teacher is saying; that's why bilingual education increases student achievement. The Arizona Department of Education says that kids in bilingual education do better on standardized tests than kids in programs like Unz's.

We support program choice; Unz doesn't. Under his program, Hispanics have to decare their children mentally retarded in order to get into bilingual education.

Hispanics in California voted overwhelmingly against the initiative because it's bad for their communities, and they know it. This initiative is anti-education, anti-free choice, and anti-Hispanic.

- Jeff MacSwan

English-only Will Soon Be As Much of A Handicap For Our Children As Being Computer Illiterate
From: Katherine "Kit" Trimm
To: Arizona Daily Star
Monday, April 10, 2000 1:22 PM
Subject: A different direction on English-only

Dear Ms. Tapia,

Thank you for your thoughtful article.  As a someone who built an international consulting company, I have some observations about this debate from business and technology perspective.  I predict that:

English-only will soon be as much of a handicap for our children as being computer illiterate.

This year the Internet is projected to be 30% non-English. The Global Economy has already arrived, and we aren’t ready for it.

The English-only and bilingual education debate needs to be cast in a different light. As we used to say at IBM, there are no problems, only opportunities. That 15% of our children come to school already in possession of another language is a BIG opportunity. Can we see this as an asset? This is a beachhead into a multilingual world we have been given as a gift. Can we leverage this asset to ensure that not only this 15% of our children will go into the workforce with more than one language, but that the other 85% have the opportunity to share this gift as well? Why shouldn’t all of our children graduate proficient in English and at least one other language? All over the world a standard education includes two or more languages. In Switzerland high school graduates are proficient in at least the four national languages, and many add English as well. This is not an unreasonable expectation.

Just as the business world requires computer literacy to compete in the information economy, the next frontier is the global economy, where multilingual skills are likewise not going to be optional within the next decade. Do we want to prepare our children for 19th century or the 21st?

In business we have learned the competitive value of diversity. Flourishing in a multicultural world is key to our children’s future. How are our schools going to prepare our children for this reality in the workplace, if we stamp out diversity in their education?

Mr. Ayala’s concerns are absolutely valid. The risk of bilingual education is that it maginalizes some of our students. Separate is so very rarely equal. If we leave some of our students behind in their English skills we have short-changed them.

However, it is Ms. Sotomayor’s concerns that strike the most personal chord with me. My family came to Tucson in 1964 when my father took a faculty position at the UofA. I remember asking my new classmates about a board hanging on the chalkboard at the front of the room. They explained it was a paddle. I was astounded, never having heard of such a thing. The offense that triggered this punishment was speaking Spanish. The holes in the paddle they further explained were to reduce wind resistance so it would hurt more. What sick adults thought this up?

Through the eyes of a little blond girl from the Midwest I can assure you the racial discrimination was every bit as harsh and demeaning at Mission Manor Elem. School as Ms. Sotomayor described it at Liberty.

I had come from a school next to a University. The children of the foreign exchange students were in my classes. Our teachers introduced them as a special gift, and opportunity to learn about other cultures. In second grade I was selected to be the special friend of a little girl from Egypt. I as I helped her learn English, I proudly learned a little Arabic. By necessity their education was immersion. And as Mr. Ayala says, it can work. But I would add only when it is done in a supportive and compassionate way. One of the girls at the top of my class had spoken no English two years before. In contrast, in my 4th grade class, after four years of Tucson-style immersion, all the top students were white. Was this a coincidence? I don’t think so.

Once in Tucson, my Arabic faded away, and I dared not learn any Spanish. The next year we moved to a new house across town. I was relieved that there were no paddles displayed in the classroom, but sadly there were no children who spoke Spanish either.

To suppress, rather than honor, children’s mother tongues does damage to all children. Can we practice English-only without a discriminatory cast? Ms. Sotomayor’s concerns are valid. We can not afford to shame and discourage the children who come to us without a background in English. Neither should we fail to prepare all of our children to thrive in a world of cultural diversity.

Rather than cast this issue as a win-lose proposition, can we look at how all of our children can win? What if we look harder at the dual-lingual approach? All students get the same program, which includes Spanish AND English for all. (This can be adapted to Native American languages and English where appropriate.)

The best answers do not lie at the extremes but in the best of all possibilities. Can we look at the 15% of our children who speak a mother tongue other than English as an asset? Can we not only give them English, but see the opportunity to share the blessing of bilingualism with the other 85% of our children. If we use our assets wisely we could produce a multi-lingual workforce within one generation. Our children could enter the workforce prepared to lead into the 21st century and the global economy, not follow.

Immigrants Fare Better With Bilingual Education
Letter To Arizona Republic, April 8, 2000
Stephen Krashen

John Micklethwait, in an article with the misleading title "Immigrants Fare Better in Schools that have Abandoned Bilingual Education" (April 6, 2000) makes several misstatements. He claims that "bilingual education ... has always produced disappointing results." This is false. Properly controlled scientific studies consistently demonstrate that students in well-designed bilingual programs acquire English very well, at least as well and usually better than children in all-English programs.

He also claims that "Since bilingual education was banned in California ... test scores have risen ... the students who were put on the English crash course or into mainstream classes are well ahead of those still stuck in bilingual ones." This is also false. Micklethwait is undoubtedly referring to the results of SAT9 testing in California. The use of SAT9 scores to measure progress is scientifically invalid: We have no idea if students used in the comparisons were at the same level at the start of year, detailed descriptions of the programs used are lacking, and there is no control for important factors that influence achievement, such as poverty.

But even if SAT9 comparisons were valid, Micklethwait's conclusion is not correct. Consider the Oceanside district, the most publicized success story for Proposition 227. Children in this district showed gains only in grade 2. The second graders moved from a very low score to the state average for LEP students. Results in other grade levels were unimpressive. Also, according to an analysis done by Stanford professor Kenji Hakuta, districts that kept bilingual education also showed gains and districts that never did bilingual education showed gains. Everybody gained.

When redesignation rates are considered, Proposition 227 was a failure. Redesignation means the percentage of children who acquired sufficient English to be classified as fully proficient. The Santa Barbara district embraced 227 and had a 2.3% redesignation rate last year. The Oceanview district, with an identical socio-economic profile, kept bilingual educaiton and had a 7.4% redesignation rate. Similarly, the Alameda school district embraced 227 and had a 4.6 redesignation rate. San Francisco, with an identical socio-economic profile, kept bilingual education and had a 10.6% redesignation rate.

Students in bilingual education acquire academic English faster, drop out less, and have a better chance of developing both languages. Immigrants fare better in schools with bilingual education.

Stephen Krashen, Ph.D.
Professor of Education
University of Southern California