HomeAwardsEventsNews 2005News 2004News 2003News 2002FormsBoardContactGoals

FeedbackResearchLinksLettersALECPics NABE 2006 Teacher of the Year Form

NABE Conference in Phoenix on January 18-21, 2006 at the Convention Center

Problems with this page?


Please contact Alejandra Sotomayor: asotomayor@azbilingualed.org


Respond to misinformation printed in the media by writing letters to the editor, opinion editorial pieces or to reporters. 

You don't know how? Click here for examples of items published in or sent to various media outlets.


Arizona department OF ED.


Click here for Parental Waiver Application

Click here for the AZ English Aquisition Services link


u.s. department OF ED.

Office of English Language Acquisition


You are visitor: Hit Counter


Searching for more articles related to learning English?

Follow this link   http://www.asu.edu/educ/epsl/lpru.htm






 The following letters and articles have been published or have been submitted for publication to various news media outlets.  Follow the links to view articles.


Sent to The Californian  (Monterey County), December 8, 2004:

I wonder if the Californian got this story right.  In “Parents to protest plan to cut bilingual program,” (Dec 8), the reason for the protest, according to the Californian, was because parents felt cutting bilingual education would “hinder the development of their native language.”  There are real benefits to keeping the native language, but the primary goal of bilingual education is English language development.
 A great deal of scientific research shows that proper use of the native language can accelerate English language development: Children in bilingual programs  generally acquire more English than those in English-only programs; at worst, they do just as well.  I suspect the Alisal parents know that bilingual  education can help English language development, and I think it is important that readers of the California also know this.

Stephen Krashen

Professor Emeritus

University of Southern California

Author of: Condemned without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education (Heinemann, 1999)


Published in the Taipei Times, November 21, 2004:

Don’t require early English

Parents in Taiwan believe that English is crucial for their children’s future, and also believe schools should start English “as early as possible.” (“Parents believe in English,” Nov, 16, page 2).  But starting early may not be the best way to help children acquire English proficiency

Studies show that older children acquire language skills faster than younger children. Thus, starting later (e.g. at grade three or grade four instead of kindergarten or grade one) is more efficient.  It also means more time to develop a solid foundation in Chinese.  Studies show that those who have a better education in the first language make better progress in developing a second.

Cynthia Wu is correct when she emphasizes the importance of not cutting back on Chinese language classes in order to squeeze in more English.  I would not forbid early English but I think it is a mistake to require it.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Published in the LA Times November 23, 2004:



Re: “Demagoguery on King/Drew,” November 23 David Lehrer and Joe Hicks are misinformed. Contrary to Lehrer and Hicks’ statement,  the Oakland School Board did not adopt a policy “to teach Ebonics.” The policy called for the best possible program for developing  competence in standard English, while also recognizing and respecting the language variety spoken by many African American students. (Amended Resolution, January 15, 1997)Also contrary to Lehrer and Hicks, Proposition 227 has not been a “manifest success.” Test scores have indeed risen in California for limited English proficient children but there is no evidence linking this increase to dismantling  bilingual education. Test scores increased for all students in California, which is typical when new tests are introduced.Studies comparing schools that kept and dropped bilingual education show no difference in improvement, and in more carefully controlled  scientific studies bilingual education typically results in more English than all-English “immersion.”

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Sent to the New York Times, Dec 9, 2004:

 Re: Children of Hispanic Immigrants Continue to Favor English, Study of Census Finds, Dec. 8

 I am pleased that the NY Times has discovered what scholars working in linguistics and language education have known for decades: Hispanic-Americans areacquiring English rapidly. English is clearly the de facto language of the United States, and this situation is unlikely to change.  

Some groups claim that we need to declare English as our official language in order to “preserve” it.  This is obviously unnecessary.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Sent to Latino Perspectives (in press) October 2004

 My Mother's Spanish

 My mother, a gifted storyteller, nourished a love of language in all her children. Even before we began school, she would read to us from the Spanish translations of such classic works as Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

 Mexican music from the radio filled our house in Los Angeles, and my mother taught us to hear the words as well as the melody.  Books in Spanish and Spanish-language newspapers filled our home, and she corrected the Spanish we used in writing letters to our family in Chihuahua.

With the wisdom of a young mother, she realized that the foundation of a good education is a love of language.  Knowing the importance of English in this country, she made sure we would learn it.  Her contribution to that end was to give us a love for her speech, the language she knew best.

 Though she studied English along with us, she had the good sense to realize that literacy is a skill that crosses language barriers, and she realized that by enriching our minds with literacy in one language, we'd be better prepared for a second.  If more politicians had as much good sense, our schools would be better off.

 Perhaps inevitably, her two sons both became bilingual and both translated their love of language into careers as English teachers.  Those of us who teach language minority students in our nation's public schools see the evidence for inter-language literacy again and again: students who are strong readers in their native language invariably become strong readers in English.

 Unfortunately, in the heat of ideological battles, voters sometimes lose their common sense.  Who would have thought that Arizonans-a people who have come to respect and admire the culture of our native tribes-would vote for a law, Proposition 203, that is so harmful to our remaining native languages?  Or that we would abandon the concept of local control of schools because we fear that the growing use of Spanish in our communities will somehow threaten English?

 As Americans, we should know our own language better. Beautifully flexible and seductive in its power, nothing threatens English.  It is the language of science, business, the Internet, popular culture and diplomacy.  Anyone who feels a desperate urge to protect English is badly underestimating its strength. I have spent my career helping students to discover the splendor of the English language and the richness of its literature.  I've yet to meet any group of parents who do not want English for their children.

 Parents seeking bilingual education feel exactly the same way.  They want English.  The only difference is that, like my mother, they want Spanish for their children, too.  They are wise enough to see the value of bilingualism.

 Yes, Spanish has indeed become our second language, a language with its own power and beauty.  It is everywhere: in bookstores, banking machines, phone messages, advertisements, and media of all types.  It gives lyrical (and sometimes perplexing) names to our streets and towns, our mountains, valleys and rivers.  It flavors our foods, colors our music, deepens our ties to the land.  Those who interpret Spanish as a threat rather than a marvelous resource are the poorer for it.

 Sadly, their fear now impoverishes our system of education.  Spanish became a convenient scapegoat, blamed for the educational struggles of the children of immigrants.  It wasn't the fact that 76% of all such children received English-only instruction.  It wasn't the disparity of funding between wealthy school districts and poor ones.  It wasn't the lack of teacher training on language acquisition strategies.  No, Spanish was the problem.  If we could rid our schools of Spanish, then all children would acquire English "in a period not normally intended to exceed one year."

 That was the promise.  The reality turned out to be something very different. California launched its experiment with immersion seven years ago.  In the first few years after their immersion programs began, school officials bragged about test score improvements.  They insisted that immersion programs were working, and that children were acquiring English with amazing speed.  (Not surprisingly, Arizona's current Superintendent of Public Instruction is now doing much the same thing.)  Then, slowly, the exuberant reports from California began to fade away.  The latest report barely made the news.  What happened?

This past February, California's legislative analysts released a study based on 2.6 million test results, tracking the length of time that it took for students from various language backgrounds to become proficient in English.  The students who learned English most quickly were from an Asian American group, Mandarin speakers, averaging 3.4 years.  The ones who took longest were from another Asian American group, Hmong speakers, averaging 7.1 years.

The results were exactly what specialists in language acquisition had been saying all along.  "English in one year" is a fantasy; literacy in two languages is a treasure.    My mom could have told them that.

Salvador Gabaldon

Letter sent to the  Arizona Republic Aug. 28, 2004

Evidence won't support Horne's language policy 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne defends his department's controversial study showing immigrant students taught in English-only classes outperformed students taught bilingually ("English immersion works fine," My Turn, Aug. 19).

Critics noted the study violated basic educational research principles by failing to control for socio-economic differences or prior student knowledge, among other problems. The study consequently mistook initial student differences for program effects.

Unsurprisingly, well-designed research shows immigrant students do better if they can understand classroom instruction.

For instance, a recent Johns Hopkins University review found most studies show students do better in bilingual rather than English-only classrooms. While some studies found no difference, none found an advantage for English-only.

Academics have a responsibility to bring flaws in the department's study to public light.

However, the superintendent and his supporters charge that academics dispute their claims for ideological reasons.

They suggest that a coven of evil professors hides the truth from the public, while the department grinds out impartial and politically neutral policy studies.

Glenn Hamer, desperate for a defense, wrote in reckless disregard for the truth ("Debate is over on immersion," Letters, Aug. 18). Among other absurdities, Hamer claimed that university faculty "benefit financially from bilingual programs."

Under Horne, Arizona has become the most language-restrictionist state in the nation, and there remains not a shred of evidence that it's a good idea.

For more information,
visit http://www.public.asu.edu/~macswan/ade/

Jeff MacSwan, Chandler
The writer is an associate professor in the College of Education at Arizona State University and a visiting scholar in the Linguistics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Expanded version of the above letter sent to the Arizona Republic

State schools chief Tom Horne defends his Department’s recent controversial study showing immigrant students taught in English-only classes outperformed students taught bilingually in 2003 (“English immersion works fine,” My Turn, Arizona Republic, Aug. 19). 

Critics, including me, noted that the study violated basic educational research principles by failing to control for socio-economic differences or prior student knowledge, among other problems. 

The Superintendent offered the following responses to my three specific criticisms (“Bad data poison language study,” My Turn, Arizona Republic, Aug. 13): 

·        "The study ignored socio-economic differences." There is no reason to believe that students in the English-immersion programs were either poorer or richer than the other English-language learners.

 Actually, there is.

 Nationally, children enrolled in bilingual education classes are two times more likely to be enrolled at a school with lower socio-economic status than children enrolled in English-only classes (U.S. Department of Education, 1997, pp. 12-15).  Because we know independently that children from schools with higher socio-economic status do better on tests than children from schools with lower socio-economic, this omission privileges students in immersion classes for the purposes of the study. 

Because of its significance in the present circumstances and in social science research quite generally, the omission marks a fatal flaw in the study’s design.

 ·        "The study ignored relevant background knowledge." Even before I began enforcing the initiative, students had to show some knowledge of English to qualify for a bilingual waiver. The bilingual program therefore had an advantage in "background knowledge," but still scored worse in every subject at every grade level.

Students who know less English are most likely to be found in bilingual education classes, as these students are more likely to be negatively impacted by incomprehensible subject matter instruction. One sees this, for instance, in California’s language testing (CELDT) data over the last three years. How this tendency would interact with the pre-screening effects Horne mentions here is simply unknown. We do not know how bilingual education students in this group would score, on average, on a test of English, and we do not know how immersion students would score.

In addition, we do not know for any grade level noted in the Department’s study how long students had been in U.S. schools. Because students in bilingual education classes in the higher grades are likely to be new arrivals, this factor would once again cause artificial inflation in the scores of the immersion students in the study.

 Failing to take these important initial differences into account, which might independently explain the reported gains, no reliable or meaningful conclusions can be made from the study’s findings.

 ·        "The study confused classroom-level and program-level decriyptions [sic]." For the period at issue, bilingual-program students after the first year typically moved on to a "transitional bilingual" classroom. Therefore, the higher achievers among bilingual-program students, who MacSwan feared were being credited to English immersion, were actually analyzed as part of the bilingual program. English-immersion students still performed better in every subject at every grade level, as much as 1.5 years ahead.

 Respectfully, I believe the Superintendent may have missed my point here.

 Academic programs consist of sequences of classroom placements, moving from one grade to the next. In an immersion program, classroom placements do not differ from year to year with regard to the issue of language of instruction; in each classroom and at every grade level, the teacher only speaks English.

 In a bilingual program, however, students begin in a classroom in which considerable time is spent in the native language, providing students with a rich understanding of academic subject matter in the language they know best while they learn English. As bilingual education students move on from one grade to the next, more and more English is used in the classroom until the students’ native language is entirely phased out.

 If you look at classroom placement data for the 02-03 academic year, as the Department’s study did, you do not know for any given student who indicates that he or she was enrolled in an all-English classroom whether the student might have been enrolled in a bilingual classroom in the previous year – and hence, while the student would not be in a bilingual education classroom, he or she would be in a bilingual education program. Because bilingual education students are transitioned to all-English classrooms once academic and linguistic benchmarks have been met, the best performing bilingual education students enter all-English classrooms more and more as the grade levels progress.

 By skimming off the higher bilingual education program students’ scores and treating them as immersion program scores, the study would once again artificially inflate the averages for immersion students. This is likely the reason we see reported gains growing so dramatically for immersion students in the study as the grade levels increase in the Department’s study.

 In this sense, the study confuses classroom-level and program-level descriptions. Again, a fatal error.

 Horne also touches on the matter of the Spanish-background students whose comparisons were not mentioned in the Department’s original press release.

 “When a subtest was done for Spanish-speaking students only,” the Superintendent said, “it still showed English-immersion students ahead in every subject at every grade level, with 18 of 21 measures statistically significant at the .05 level.”

 Actually, among Spanish-speaking students, 16 of 21 measures were statistically significant (3 at the .05 level, 13 at the .001 level), not 18. In grades 2-5, most relevant to the anti-bilingual law, only 7 of 12 comparisons were statistically significant. In 5 of these 7 instances, the reported advantage for immersion students was “one month” measured in terms of grade equivalence.

 In view of these short-term differences, other important background factors neglected by the study are that students must wait one month before they can be waived into a bilingual program – giving immersion program students a one-month head start – and the six-week scheduling variance which the state allows for schools to administer the Stanford 9.

 Given these numerous limitations, which strongly advantage immersion students in the Department’s study, it is remarkable that bilingual education students appear to do as well as the immersion students in so many instances.

 However, for me, the interest in the Spanish-background student scores stemmed very much from their stunning absence from the Department’s announcement about the study. The authors of the study were very clear in suggesting that the Spanish-background comparisons were more informative than the other measures because the groups were less heterogeneous; yet the Department chose to present to the media the set of scores that would make its policies appear more successful.

 The Superintendent’s column devotes considerable space to an attempt to discredit me and other academics who have been publicly critical of his policies and his claims about educational research on this topic.

 “Some highly ideological pro-bilingual professors don't like to face up to scientific results,” Horne wrote. “Most professors are conscientious, but a few are highly ideological.”

 This statement was quite mild compared to a letter published a day earlier by Glenn Hamer (“Debate is over on English immersion,” Arizona Republic, Aug. 18), which charged that objections to immersion come from “professors and researchers who benefit financially from bilingual programs” – a total falsehood, of course. (See “More public misinformation on bilingual education” for other comments on Hamer’s letter.)

 It is remarkable that the Superintendent and his supporters charge academics with ideological bias, and expect the public to believe that the Arizona Department of Education – a political organization headed by an elected official who campaigned for office –  is driven by the facts and true research – albeit internally-conducted, substantially written by an Associate Superintendent who served as one of the leaders of the campaign to enact the anti-bilingual law, and for the primary purpose of evaluating its own policies.

 Like it or not, academics simply have a responsibility to bring flaws such as those noted in the Department’s study to the public’s attention. Neglecting to do so would be a gravely unethical disservice.

 In a better world, the Department of Education would work collaboratively with researchers at the universities to produce meaningful evaluations of the state’s education policies, to the greatest extent possible. We remain willing to work cooperatively and collaboratively with the ADE on these topics.

 In the meanwhile, we are best informed by scientifically designed research which, unlike the Department’s recent study, controls for potentially confounding pre-existing differences.

 Unsurprisingly, this body of research shows that English learners do better if they can understand classroom instruction, using the language they know best.

 A recent comprehensive review by Robert Slavin and Alan Cheung at the Johns Hopkins University, completed just last December, makes precisely this point. Slavin and Cheung found that most methodologically sound studies show students do better in bilingual rather than English-only classrooms. While some studies they reviewed found no difference, none found an advantage for English-only.

 In another recent study, Jay Greene used a statistical technique known as meta-analysis to synthesize research on this topic. Greene concluded that “bilingual programs are effective at increasing standardized test scores measured in English” in comparison to less effective all-English alternatives.

 It’s important to note that Slavin, Cheung and Greene are not historically associated with the field of language minority education, so it becomes much more difficult to label them as “highly ideological pro-bilingual professors.” In fact, Greene is now a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a privately-funded conservative thinktank.

 One wonders how the Superintendent would explain the reluctance of these researchers “to face up to scientific results.”

 The so-called “pro-bilingual” position is actually quite similar to the position of George W. Bush on this matter:

 I support a concept I call English-plus, insisting on English proficiency but recognizing the invaluable richness that other languages and cultures brings to our nation of immigrants. In Texas, the Spanish language enhances and helps define our state’s history. My fundamental priority is results. Whether a school uses an immersion program or a bilingual program, whichever effectively teaches children to read and comprehend English as quickly as possible, I will support. The standard is English literacy and the goal is equal opportunity – all in an atmosphere where every heritage is respected and celebrated.

 Horne’s position makes Bush, our highly conservative Republican president, appear to be a leftist radical. Yet he characterizes the rest of us as ideologues.

 Many members of the public do not understand how extremist the policies of the current Superintendent actually are. Tom Horne has made it impossible for parents to choose any programmatic alternative to the all-English immersion approach. The waiver provision of Proposition 203, under his administration, has been essentially disposed with, due to his peculiar understanding of the waiver qualification rules.

 While Superintendent Horne insists that all English learners should be in immersion and none of them in bilingual education, the so-called “pro-bilingual” position simply asks for diversity of program options, befitting local resources and circumstances.

 Tom Horne has made Arizona the most regressive and language-restrictionist state in the nation, and there remains not a shred of evidence that it’s a good idea.

 The public deserves a Department of Education that will be guided by science, not the divisive English-only ideology which appears to underlie every move of the current administration.

Jeff MacSwan, Chandler
The writer is an associate professor in the College of Education at Arizona State University and a visiting scholar in the Linguistics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sent to the Arizona Republic August 18, 2004: More Public Misinformation on Bilingual Education

Glenn Hamer’s recent letter (“Debate is over on English immersion,” Aug. 18, Arizona Republic) makes several assertions in an effort to defend the Department of Education’s claim that its study shows English Language Learners benefit from the state’s mandated immersion program.

Because Hamer has no apparent ability to make his point rationally, he presents false statements about me in an effort to damage my reputation and credibility.

“Every study of student achievement has concluded that the best method to educate non-native speakers of English is through immersion in the language,” writes Hamer. “English immersion leads to better success in the United States.”

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in a recent comprehensive review of the scientific literature on this question, Robert Slavin and Alan Cheung identified studies which used methodologically sound research methods to investigate this question. Most of the studies Slavin and Cheung identified favored bilingual approaches over immersion approaches; while some found no difference, none of them showed an advantage for immersion over bilingual education.

That’s right. None. A far cry from “every study.”

It’s important to note, too, that Robert Slavin, the lead author of this report, is not historically associated with the field of minority language education. He is a Research Scientist affiliated with the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (RESPAR) at the John Hopkins University, and is an Advisor to the Nation on Science, Engineering and Medicine.

In another recent report, Jay Greene used a statistical technique known as meta-analysis to synthesize research on this topic. Greene concluded that “bilingual programs are effective at increasing standardized test scores measured in English” in comparison to less effective all-English alternatives.

Again, a far cry from Hamer’s uninformed claim that research on these topics indicates that “the best method to educate non-native speakers of English is through immersion.”

Like Slavin, Greene is not otherwise associated with this field of research. Formerly an Assistant Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, Greene is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a privately-funded conservative thinktank.

“Despite the facts,” Hamer continues, “there remain objections from professors and researchers who benefit financially from bilingual programs. Their claims are as credible as tobacco companies trumpeting the safety of cigarettes. … Disregarding the evidence, a long-time member of the bilingual education establishment, Professor Jeff McSwan [sic], continues his assault on the immersion programs that work ...”

These statements, of course, are ludicrous.  I receive no financial rewards that depend on what point of view I take on this issue, and I do not now and never have receive benefits, financial or otherwise, from bilingual programs.

And I’m actually not “a long-time member of the bilingual education establishment,” whatever that might mean. I only finished graduate school seven years ago, and was a high school ESL teacher before that!

In contrast to the consensus of evidence on this topic, the Department of Education has produced a study asserting an advantage for students enrolled in immersion whose methods violate the most basic design principles of good social science research. As such, the study is meaningless and its conclusions are uninformative.

But it does fit well with the English-only ideology that underlies the ban on bilingual education, and that’s what appears to count most for the Glenn Hamers of our state.

Rather than lead Arizona’s immigrant students into a better world of all-English classrooms, the Department has enacted an extremist interpretation of the law passed by voters, making viable and defensible alternatives to English immersion impossible.

If extremism and ideology are not behind these policy decisions, what is?

About the author: http://www.public.asu.edu/~macswan/ade/
Jeff MacSwan is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Arizona State University, and a Visiting Scholar in the Linguistics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sent to the East Valley Tribune (Arizona), August 9, 2004

 Re: PC crowd’s fears about bilingual education’s necessity unfounded, August 8

 The Tribune quotes the Lexington Institute as saying that after bilingual education was eliminated in 1998 California, test scores went up:  in 2003, 43 percent of English learners were “early advanced”  or better, up from 34 percent in 2002 and 25 percent in 2001. 

 The Tribune needs to take a more critical look at its sources.  The gains were very modest.

 The 2001 to 2002 jump was based on children who took the exam both years!  Boasting about such gains is like boasting that children in second grade did slightly better on a test of reading than they did when they were in first grade. Many of these children had been in school for some time before taking the test in 2001 and did not start out the year at zero English proficiency; in fact 82% scored at the low intermediate level or higher in 2001.

 Based on the 2003 results, the State of California legislative analyst office projected that English learners in California schools take 3.6 to 7.4 years to become fluent in English. Proposition 227, California’s equivalent of Arizona’s Proposition 203, promised that English learners would become fluent in one year. Clearly this did not happen. 

Most important, there was no scientific comparison between those in all-English programs and those in bilingual education.

 The recent Arizona data is also completely unscientific. There was no consideration of previous competence in English (students with lower English proficiency are typically placed in bilingual classes), no control for poverty, and no inspection of methodology. Even if the Arizona data were valid, the results are suspect. Far fewer children were tested in bilingual programs, and in previous years, children in bilingual programs in Arizona outscored those in immersion; this has been ignored.

 Scientifically controlled studies have been done, however, and they show that children in bilingual education acquire at least as much English as those in immersion programs, and usually acquire more.

 It is not just the “PC crowd” that supports bilingual education: It is all those who have carefully examined the scientific data.

 Stephen Krashen

Sent to Education Week August 8, 2004

  The article on Arizona's mandatory training for all teachers in English immersion (July 28, p. 10) failed to recognize the deep controversy surrounding this issue and the potential harm for ELL students. Fifteen clock-hours of training for an SEI Endorsement is insufficient to prepare teachers to work effectively with ELLs. Furthermore, the SEI Endorsement undermines the state's current ESL Endorsement which consists of 18 units of college-level coursework in addition to foreign-language study. While the state is not officially abolishing the ESL endorsement, it will be rendered obsolete as the SEI endorsement is all that will be required for the legal placement of an ELL student.

 This leads to the other major concern of ELL student advocates. In the article, Ms. Dugan, Associate Superintendent for Academic Achievement, and co-chair of the Proposition 203 campaign, declared "We believe all students should have access to all teachers" and that "as soon as kids learn the vocabulary and are taught language early on, they should be able to mainstream as quickly as possible."

 The contradiction in Ms. Dugan's statement should be apparent. Under the Arizona plan, every single classroom in the state will be a legal placement for an ELL student. Thus, there will be no classrooms for ELLs to be "mainstreamed" into, because they will already be in mainstream classrooms, taught by mainstream teachers with only a minimal amount of training.

 Arizona's plan is an attempt to legally return to the one-size-fits-all sink-or-swim education that was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Lau vs. Nichols.

  The impetus for the training policy stems from the Flores v. Arizona lawsuit, in which a federal judge found ELL education in the state to be lacking in several areas, including the qualifications of teachers of ELL students. Arizona's plan, however, ensures that ELL students will be taught by teachers with less training, not more. For this reason, the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Flores v. Arizona case have expressed their opposition and have recently filed a legal challenge to state's new policy.

 Wayne E. Wright, Assistant Professor, University of Texas, San Antonio, College of Education and Human Development, Division of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies

The letter below was sent to the Arizona Daily Star August 6, 2004

 In Tom Horne's odd response ("TUSD isn't more liberal…,"Aug. 6, 2004) to Lupita Peńa's guest editorial in the Star, he insinuates that the TUSD Board and administration have been guilty of "waiver abuse" but have now "represented" being in compliance.  TUSD has always followed the law in approving thousands of waivers each year for English learners, many of whom are ten or older.  Proficiency has nothing to do with such waivers. Students younger than ten years of age simply need qualifying oral scores, not the full oral, reading and writing proficiency Ms. Peńa mentions. Doesn't Horne know his own rules?

 What makes TUSD more "liberal" in approving waivers is its policy of granting every qualified request.  Placing such high regard for parental rights is commendable.  More districts should try it.  If anything is abusive, it is the self-righteous tone and discredited "studies" that Horne uses in attacking TUSD and the thoughtful parents who choose bilingual education for their children.  He owes them all an apology.

 Peter Gómez, Tucson, AZ

Sent to the NY Times, July 14, 2004

Samuel G. Freedman found “two dozen” parents who criticized bilingual education in a vaguely described meeting and completely ignored the well-established research supporting it (“Latino parents decry bilingual education,” July 14).  Numerous studies show that parents of minority language children support the principles underlying bilingual education, most linguistic minorities voted against anti-bilingual education initiatives, and the research consistently shows that bilingual programs help children acquire English. 

His article is an outrage.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Sent to the Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA:  rdigitale@pressdemocrat.com

Re: More changes in SR's bilingual education program

This is the same ol' argument.  With 90% of California's English learners in English immersion finishing year six of Prop. 227's "one year of intensive English immersion", they are still talking about the "spirit of Prop. 227".  If P227 had actually worked immigrant parents and teachers would be clamoring for English only instruction.  It didn't work, but conservative school board members still want to force it down their throats.

Jaime Escalante stated in the 1998 pro Proposition 227 ballot argument, "We give choice to parents not administrators".  This was the spirit of Prop. 227.  It was believed that parents would see that it would take only one year to become English fluent.  That hasn't happened.

Parents have seen the 1998 English fluency rate move from 7% to todays level of 7%.  In 1998, Prop. 227 proponents called it a 93% failure rate, today they don't mention it.

Parents have seen that English learners have fallen further behind in every tested subject at every grade level on the California Standardized tests.  The achievement gap has widened since Prop. 227 placed 90% of California's English learners into its English immersion program.

Parents have seen the number of non English fluent students rise from 806,419 in 1998 when Prop. 227 passed to today's level of 1,193,239 students.  The number hasn't grown because over one million students have just arrived into our classrooms since the beginning of the last school year.  Students have repeated the one year over and over again.

The fact is that Prop. 227 has failed.  The "spirit of Prop. 227" is all that is left and it hurts children and doesn't advance our community.

Denis O'Leary
Education Advisor,
Far West Region, League of United Latin American Citizens

LULAC is the nation’s oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization with members throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.


 Sent to the Los Angeles Daily News, Feb. 29, 2004:

“Sun may set on English language” (Feb 27) was excellent, but the headline was wrong.  The percentage of native speakers of English in the world is declining, but the dominance of English as an international language is growing. In 1997 95% of scientific papers cited in the Science Citation Index were written in English, up from 83% in 1977.  English is the international language of aviation. Seventyfive percent of all websites are in English. When Israel talks to Japan, when Korea talks to Brazil, when Germany talks to Ethiopia, it is in English. The sun is not setting on English.

Stephen Krashen

Sent to the Taipei Times, Feb 23, 2004:

Chen Shu-Chin  ("English is a blight on young kids," February 17) is correct: Starting English too early and emphasizing "English-only" education for very young children can crowd out other valuable learning experiences.

But there is another very good reason to reduce emphasis on English in the very early years. Starting later and doing less is actually more efficient for acquiring English: Studies consistently show that older children are significantly  faster than younger children in second language acquisition.  In addition, a solid foundation in the first language makes a strong contribution to second language development: Those who are more literate in their first language acquire literacy in the second language more quickly, and  those who know more, thanks to a good education in their first language, understand more of what they read and hear in their second language, which speeds acquisition.

Ironically, "less in more" in this situation. Starting later and devoting more time to developing a strong foundation in Chinese is the best thing Taiwan can do to promote English language development. It is also the best thing Taiwan can do ton ensure quality education for Taiwanese children and the development of the first language. It is a win-win situation. Premature and excessive English is lose-lose, bad for both English and academic development.

An important additional point: In situations in which English is crucial for daily life, as in the US, non-English speaking children should begin English as a second language (ESL)  classes the first day they enter school. But the most effective programs also include a great deal of education in the child's primary language. Research shows that these programs teach English at least as well, and usually better than, all-day English programs.

I presented a paper on this topic ("Dealing with English Fever") at the International Symposium sponsored by the English Teachers' Association/ROC last November in Taipei. It can be found on my website, http://www.sdkrashen.com and in the conference proceedings, published by the Crane Publishing Company in Taipei.

Stephen Krashen

Letter sent to the LA Times, February 21, 2004:

Re: When English Isn’t First, February 21, 2004.  It is interesting to see that after discovering that English only instruction via Proposition 227 has been shown to be a dismal failure two letters to the Times can only cite that they don’t like the Spanish language.

Instructing children to be English fluent takes understanding in academics.  The most recent study by the Legislative Analyst’s Office states that English only instruction takes 3.6 to 7.4 years.  Prop. 227 claimed that English immersion instruction should "not normally" exceed one year.  This has been shown to be an empty claim.

Citing ATM machines who afford adults to bank in Spanish has nothing to do with children not becoming fluent in English in one year.  The “American Dream” can be achieved with academics which are lost to children who are giving up science, math and social studies to study flash cards for 3.6 to 7.4 years.  In the end, all children speak English, but those who studied in a bilingual classroom will be able to compete for the “American dream,”  the others will be able to ask how the lawn should be cut.

Denis O'Leary
Education Advisor, National Far West Region,
League of United Latin American Citizens

Published in the Los Angeles Times, Feb 21, 2004:

The legislative analyst's office reported that, according to projections, English learners in California schools take 3.6 to 7.4 years to become fluent in English. This analysis is based on tests administered in 2001 and 2002, long after California voted to dismantle bilingual education and require English immersion by passing Proposition 227.

Today, nearly all English learners in school are in all-English programs. Proposition 227 stated that English immersion instruction should "not normally" exceed one year. The report shows conclusively that this didn't happen. Proposition 227 did not keep its promise. Not even close.

Stephen Krashen
School of Education


Letter sent to several newspapers Feb. 14, 2004:

English immersion has failed

Last week I addressed the Santa Barbara School District Board of Trustees offering my and LULAC’s services in addressing the needs of minority and Latino students.  This district eliminated bilingual education in 1997 and still complains that students are not advancing because they have dismal English language skills.  As I walked to my seat, a friend whispered to me that the board members expressions were that of not being interested in listening once again to something they didn’t believe in.

Learning “English in English” sounded so good. The group “English for the Children” capitalized on a public who was ready to believe that “bilingual” meant “Spanish only” instead of “two languages” and marshaled the forces to support the political conservative agenda.  English for the Children wrote and passed Proposition 227 in 1998.  In the process they called proponents of bilingual instruction “human vampires,” “cultist,” and “educational terrorist.”  In turn, proponents cited research which was always countered with more name calling.

Why did supporters of bilingual instruction argue its merits?  The English only movement told the public it was because we had a financial interest in not teaching English.  Bilingual education supporters were said to have a desire to hold back the new immigrants and promote racism.

The truth be said, these new found friends of the immigrant child have not stood by the side of the same children they claimed to advance.  On the other hand, many teachers who had been working to educate immigrant students were forced to practice flash cards of high frequency words instead of history, science and algebra.  Supporters of bilingual education knew that 70% of the children who were not fluent in English were in English only classes from well before Proposition 227 came around.  The dismal failure of English immersion was being projected on the 30% of the students who were receiving instruction in a language they could understand while they were learning the English language.

Since the passage of Proposition 227 entire school districts have officially called for implementation of the “ban” on bilingual education.  The word “ban” does not appear in the legal text, in fact the approved law gives the right to the immigrant parents to select bilingual education without interference from the school district.  Today only 10% of non English fluent students are allowed to enroll their children in some form of bilingual instruction in California.

In the seven years that followed the passage of Proposition 227’s “one year of intensive English immersion” the public has been told about its success on a yearly basis.  The same promoters took their law to Arizona, Massachusetts and Colorado claiming the overwhelming success in California.  Funding for bilingual instruction in California has been cut, the State Board of Education denied Reading First federal funds to school districts who upheld the parents rights to offer bilingual and the 10% of the students enrolled in bilingual instruction have been blamed for any failures of the entire body of students who total more that 1.6 million this academic year alone.

No teacher has been sued under the Proposition 227 provision but Santa Ana School District Trustee Nativo Lopez was recalled after facing a group led by the writer of Proposition 227 because he supported bilingual education.  I, myself had my teaching credential audited four days after defending parents rights to choose bilingual education under the law for their children to the State Board of Education.  Ron Unz also debated his point of view at the same meeting.  He was introduced simply as “Ron” by the State Board President when taking the microphone.

The last month has seen the dramatic manipulations come to light:

As reported in the Ventura County Star on January 24, 2004 in “Bilingual classes better than English-only approach” researchers at Johns Hopkins University have reported on studies conducted over 30 years. It found that after 17 studies on reading in the elementary grades, all showed that bilingual programs positively affected reading performance.

On February 13, 2004 the Reading First federal funds were opened to immigrant students who are in a district who offers bilingual education only after a lengthy law suit brought to the Superior Court of California in San Francisco.  This will open up 133 million dollars to school districts who follow the law and allow parental choice.

And finally:  A report from the California Department of Education release on February 12, 2004 now states that it take students 3.6 to 7.4 years to become English fluent.

Students have been punished by policy makers who search for power by attacking immigrants.  Students, parents, teachers, and school districts have been intimidated by lack of funds and ridiculed or recalled if they supported bilingual instruction.

It is time to advance our students:

Bilingual education does work.  It takes more than one year, but this was a time limit set by political opponents.  We have found that “one year of intensive English immersion” also takes more than one year, it takes 3.6 to 7.4 years.  In the seven years since Proposition 227 passed only 7% of students have managed to become English fluent each year.  A 93% failure rate will not ready our population to meet the global economy and cannot be blamed on the 10% student population in bilingual instruction.

So what’s on the agenda now?

The group who passed Proposition 187 ten years ago now want to bring it back.  Calling the new initiative “Save Our State” or “S.O.S.”  they will once again stereotype all immigrant children as illegal and demand they not study in public instruction.

Proposition 227 was a fallacy.  English immersion has failed and it took seven years for the media and public to catch up with what bilingual education supporters had said all along.

On October 26, 2001, (just 40 days after 9-11), Ron Unz, the writer and promoter of Proposition 227 showed his contempt for bilingual education supporters in an opinion article published in the conservative National Review.  Ron Unz comparing himself as bilingual education’s “personal bin Laden” wrote:

“A few weeks ago, Americans witnessed the enormous devastation that a small handful of fanatically committed individuals can wreak upon society. Perhaps it is now time for ordinary Americans to be willing to take a stand against those similarly tiny groups of educational terrorists in our midst, whose disastrous policies are enforced upon us not by bombs or even by knives, but simply by their high-pitched voices. Americans must remain silent no longer.”

This  man and his movement have shaped school policy in too many states for too many years.  This movement should be stopped now. The English only movement has been a fallacy and the people who applaud its value have set back the future of a generation only to promote their own political success.

Denis O'Leary
Oxnard School District Board Trustee
Education Advisor, Far West Region, LULAC

Sent to the LA Times, Feb. 14, 2004:

According to the LA Times ("A small problem growing,"Feb. 12) because of nutritional deficiencies, North Koreans are not as tall as South Koreans. The North Korean prime minister has recommended stretching exercises for children as a means of making them taller.  He must have been inspired by No Child Left Behind and the National Reading Panel. Their approach is also to stretch children by artificial (and painful) means.  Children of poverty read less well than children of high-income families because they have less access to print. Instead of providing more print (e.g. better school and public libraries in high-poverty areas), No Child Left Hehind prescribes (and demands) skill-building: e.g. phonics, vocabulary, and reading comprehension exercises.  Just like stretching,  it is painful, and just like stretching, it doesn’t work.  Korean children need better nutrition.  Children of poverty with little access to books need better access to books. There is no substitute.

Saying that we must insist on skills because children just won’t read is like saying hungry children just won’t eat. But studies clearly show that given interesting and comprehensible reading material, nearly all children find reading pleasant and eventually read.

Stephen Krashen

Published in the Arizona Republic Jan. 31, 2004: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/0131satlets314.html

Immigrants are learning English

Contrary to the letter of Leslie Davis of Tolleson in The Republic Jan. 23, recent immigrants to the United States are learning English. The recent census demonstrates this clearly.

According to census data, immigrants from all language groups are learning English so fast, in fact, that within a mere two generations, mother tongues are utterly abandoned in favor of English (thereby depriving America of an important resource in international business and foreign relations).

Many people who want to learn English often have trouble finding a way to do it. Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County typically have a long waiting list for ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) instruction. If Davis is really concerned about the learning of English, she should call Literacy Volunteers at (602) 274-3430 or visit them at their Web site (www.literacy volunteers-maricopa.org.)

A new training cycle begins in March. Become a volunteer and make a difference. - K.S. Johnson, Phoenix

Sent to the San Franicisco Chronicle, January 30, 2004:

Re: "CSU remedial plan falling shy of goal Many new students still lack proficiency in English, math," January 29

The Chronicle suggests that the number of "unprepared" freshman at CSU is linked to new approaches to teaching reading, and these approaches were responsible for a drop in test scores. The Chronicle is misinformed. California's fourth-graders placed last in reading in the US in 1992, but this was not because of new methodology: Language arts became "literature-based" in California in 1987: there was not enough time to significantly impact tests given in 1992. Also, Jeff McQuillan's analysis shows that reading levels in California were low long before 1987. Finally, even though the new approach has been long purged, replaced by intensive skills program, there has been no increase in California's reading scores.

We have ignored the likely cause of California's problem. Studies show that when children have more access to books, they read more, and when children read more they read better. Studies also show that school library quality is related to reading scores. California has the worst school libraries in the US, and our public libraries rank near the bottom. The new state budget allots 70 cents per child for school libraries; the national average is $20. Our children read poorly because they have little access to reading material.

Stephen Krashen

Published in the Arizona Republic Jan. 27, 2004:

Language bias shows intolerance Jan. 27, 2004 12:00 AM

Regarding the Friday letter to the editor "Our Language is English: Learn it":

My ancestors, too, came from another country but I do not share the letter writer's intolerant attitude.

First of all, she needs to get over the past. It is 2004 and soon non-Hispanics will be a minority in this state. Like her parents, many Hispanics came here many generations ago and their language is here as part of their culture.

My two English-speaking sons hear Spanish every day and they are constantly inquiring about the words. They are becoming bilingual, and to me that is a beautiful thing.

Also, many of the Spanish signs are probably created by business owners who choose to advertise in Spanish because it is their right.

I think it is obnoxious to assume that Spanish speakers came here illegally, and it is this type of intolerant attitude that creates hatred among us.
-Tammy Nagel, Phoenix

Sent to the Ventura County Star, January 24, 2004:  http://staff.venturacountystar.com/

Re: Bilingual classes better than English-only approach (January 24, 2004, Kathleen Wilson)

Bilingual education has once again been proven through research that it is superior to the English immersion method.  This comes as no surprise to bilingual educators, but politics has dictated to the contrary.

Learning “English in English” seemed to sound so good and the group “English for the Children” capitalized on misgivings that the Spanish language is not welcomed by the majority of voters.  English for the Children wrote and passed Proposition 227 in 1998.  In the process they called proponents of bilingual instruction “human vampires,” “cultist,” and “educational terrorist.”  In turn, proponents cited research which was always countered with more name calling.

Six years after passing, only 7% of English Language Learners have become English fluent.  Proposition 227 stated that students would become English fluent after “one year of intensive English immersion.”  This has not happened.

Today researchers at Johns Hopkins University have reported on studies conducted over 30 years. It found that after 17 studies on reading in the elementary grades, all showed that bilingual programs positively affected reading performance.  The answer is not more research.  The answer is to embrace the academic methodology which has proven to be more effective.

Currently we see districts in Ventura County which are making excuses that there are not enough bilingual teachers after the same districts released these bilingual teachers to follow the failed status quo of English immersion.  Other districts have heard cries that children have been forced into bilingual instruction from such groups as the Ventura County Grand Jury.

It is time to embrace the proven method of bilingual education.  Let’s not leave 93% of our students behind for a seventh year.

Denis O’Leary
Ventura County Chapter of the California Association for Bilingual Education

Published in the Arizona Republic Jan. 22, 2004: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/0122thurlets223.html

Clarity, not English, is classroom key

In an article "Hispanics upset by teacher's discipline"  in Local on Jan. 17, Arizona Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne was indirectly quoted as saying it is correct for a teacher to insist that students speak only English in class but it is wrong to hit them.

There is nothing in any education law or spirit of law that says that children may not or should not speak their native language while trying to comprehend and respond to instruction in English. The law purely speaks to the language of the teachers and their materials.

Children should be encouraged to be active, engaged learners who help each other make sense of the instruction in any language.

By discouraging students from using their native language to comprehend instruction, teachers are asking for students to shut down as learners completely. That is not in the best interest of anyone!

Julie G. Neff-Encinas
The writer is a middle school teacher.

Published in the Arizona Republic, Jan. 20, 2004 12:00 AM

A sad return to bias over Spanish
I now understand why my father wouldn't teach Spanish to my siblings and me.

He went to school in Texas in the 1950s and 1960s and he would recount stories of being punished for speaking Spanish. I chose to learn Spanish in high school and college because that part of my heritage was deemed unworthy. My father's teachers made him feel embarrassed for being bilingual.

I now have a position similar to the Scottsdale teacher who "hit" her students for speaking Spanish ("Teacher faces firing for hitting children," Republic, Friday). How sad that confusion over Proposition 203 and English immersion has resulted in a return to the school days of my father.




 Arizona Debate continues...

August 11, 2005...Napolitano, GOP leaders resume talks;1st meeting in 3 months  Gov. Janet Napolitano and the top Republican leaders from the House and Senate took the first step toward patching up a seriously damaged relationship Wednesday and possibly ending a bitter stalemate over money for English-language learners and a corporate tuition tax credit for private schools. Napolitano vetoed an English-learner plan supported by Weiers and Bennett, calling it inadequate because it added only $13.5 million in new money and forced schools to apply for grants in future years. Napolitano proposed a more expensive funding plan earlier this summer, supported by Hogan, that would spend about $185 million a year to shrink class sizes and better train teachers.

Lack of appropriate funding for ELL continues...Aug. 3, 2005
Associated Press

"Napolitano said lawmakers need to deal with it sooner rather than later. 'We need to solve this problem as opposed to litigating it,' she said. In the wake of lawsuit plaintiffs going to court to turn up the heat on state lawmakers, Gov. Janet Napolitano says a special session of the Legislature may be needed to resolve a long-standing school funding issue that could jeopardize federal funding for highway construction in Arizona."
The lawsuit plaintiffs asked the judge in the case to expedite his consideration of their request for sanctions. Otherwise, it could be months before there's a ruling and easily January before the Legislature is forced to act, the plaintiffs' lawyers said. Given that the students are not adequately learning English and are failing the AIMS graduation test in large numbers, "they need relief now, not next January," the motion stated

Make a difference! Call the Governor’s office at (602-542-4331) to thank her for this courageous advocacy on behalf of English Language Learners in our schools.

Our action makeS a difference!


 AABE is a NABE Affiliate Member


Problems with this page? Contact asotomayor@azbilingualed.org