Bilingual Education in Our Schools A Time for Reflection by SeRyan

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									Editor’s Introduction

Bilingual Education in Our Schools: A Time for Reflection
As the culture wars continue to pummel higher education in general and bilingual education more specifically, it is more than interesting to observe that after various ballot box initiatives to remove bilingual education from the American educational landscape, it is still present, growing, and by all accounts definitely not retreating. It reminds me of my son’s T-ball baseball team so many years ago. The team had several athletically gifted kids and was coached by a local former sports legend in the community. The team had won 16 straight games and was set to win its 17th and final one of the season. One of the assistant coaches had gone to a sports store and ordered small plaques for each child with the “perfect season 17–0” record engraved into the gold-plated front. The team, however, lost its final game. Needless to say, the young boys were heartbroken and some even shed tears at the loss and the blemish on their perfect record. At the picnic that followed the final game the coach called all of the kids toward him (several still silently crying), and offered the following (paraphrased) advice: I know that all of you were looking forward to another win today. But, the other team was just better than you today. They played harder and made the plays they had to make in order to win. We should congratulate them. Losing is never an easy thing to accept—especially as a competitor. I know that all of you feel bad. However, I can promise you this much. Tomorrow morning, the sun will come out and continue to shine, the birds will still sing, you will be hungry for breakfast, and, your parents are still going to love you. After Propositions 227 in California, 203 in Arizona, and Question 2 in Massachusetts, bilingual educators and the parents of English language learners (ELLs) should by all rights have felt extremely dejected. But guess what? The words of this “old” coach ring out with more force than ever

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before. “Tomorrow morning, the sun will come out and continue to shine, the birds will still sing, you will be hungry for breakfast, and your parents are still going to love you.” And by the way, the ELLs will be at their desks as well. And, there may be a few more than yesterday! There can be little doubt that propositions to limit or eradicate bilingual education are nothing more than naked attempts to limit immigration by attacking immigrant children. These tactics however are extremely shortsighted in that they fail to acknowledge that children are not to blame for problems caused by the illegal immigration of adults. If anything, these children are the victims of immigration. And the number of these children continues to rise and they keep showing up at the schoolhouse door. They will not disappear simply because they inconvenience us. And the American response is to attempt to refuse them a successful educational childhood. We grudgingly give them teaching programs that were proven to be failures as much as a half century ago. Do we think these children will go away? Will it matter if the nation continues to play politics with their lives and their futures? Will they wake up one morning and suddenly speak English? Are they going to be less loved by their parents? Will our failure to provide these children with the types of programs proven to help them acquire English and become successful students create another underclass in our society? Will this new class of under prepared youth become a financial and social burden on our social fabric because our nation pretend not to see the negative issues created by educational neglect and the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment? At a time when the United States is in need of some 2 million teachers nationwide, the number of students classified as ELLs is increasing at a rate five times the average annual rate of the total U.S. enrollment (Menken & Holmes, 2000). These numbers certainly do not indicate a hasty retreat to the south by immigrant children. What should American schools do? Well, we can continue to pretend that ELLs learn best in a language they don’t understand. Also, we can pretend that these children are all going to pass their “high stakes” tests and receive scholarships to go to college. Or perhaps better yet, we can also pretend that these 5,000,000-plus children are all going to one day disappear from our classrooms because they are all going to realize that they are here illegally and want to go home immediately. Of course, we can continue to pretend that this is not a problem of any consequence and ignore it. In one form or another, our nation does all of these things. However, we engage in these anti-educational activities at our own risk. The United States cannot afford to mis-educate over 5 million children. Whether these children return to their native countries or remain here, it remains in our selfish best interest to educate these children—and educate them well. The economic impact these children would hold as uneducated adults would rumble throughout all sectors of our economy and social welfare system. And worst of all, it would keep perpetuating itself. There is a great need in this country to

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take stock of what is truly important in our lives and what we are willing to live without. Under-educating our children would be a grave mistake because it creates a problem that keeps enlarging itself. We need to make school an experience that lives up to our stated beliefs—“with justice and liberty for all.” We as bilingual educators must be the first to embrace the cause for fair and equitable treatment for our children. This issue of the Bilingual Research Journal contains a critical mass of papers that represent some of the best thinking in our field today. The lead article, “Effects of Dyad Reading Instruction on the Reading Achievement of Hispanic Third-Grade English Language Learners,” belongs to Isela Almaguer. She investigated the effects of a cooperative peer-assisted reading strategy (dyad reading instruction) on the reading achievement of Hispanic thirdgrade ELLs. Her study adds to the growing body of literature on peer-assisted cooperative approaches that could prove even more beneficial to children in the future. Dario J. Almarza’s article, “Connecting Multicultural Education Theories With Practice: A Case Study of an Intervention Course Using the Realistic Approach in Teacher Education,” looks at a 2 year study in which preservice teachers’ attitudes towards linguistically and culturally diverse students were investigated using a qualitative approach. The study concludes that teachers engaging in this type of activity reported positive effects on their perceptions of students and their ability to connect multicultural education theory to actual practice. The next two articles focus on language and linguistics. First, Igone Arteagoitia, Elizabeth R. Howard, Mohammed Louguit, Valerie Malabonga, and Dorry M. Kenyon present us with a study describing the development of a Spanish-spelling measure designed to assess the progress made by SpanishEnglish bilingual children from Grade 2 to Grade 5. In “The Spanish Developmental Contrastive Spelling Test: An Instrument for Investigating Intra-Linguistic and Crosslinguistic Influences on Spanish-Spelling Development,” the authors note that this particular spelling measure is unique because it is both developmental and contrastive. In “Language Maintenance Revisited: An Australian Perspective,” Francesco Cavallaro discusses the issue of language maintenance from the multilingual Australian perspective. As a nation where their immigrant populations speak more than 100 languages, Cavallaro makes a strong argument for the advantages to maintaining these languages. In “The Impact of Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, Language, and Training Program on Teaching Choice Among New Teachers in California,” Tonika Duren Green, MyLuong Tran, and Russell Young examine relations among begining teachers’ cultural backgrounds, their choice of certification program (either BCLAD or CLAD), and the characteristics of schools where they were employed. One of their findings is that teachers often teach students who are from similar backgrounds to their own. Similarly, in “Hegemonic Multiculturalism: English Immersion, Ideology, and Subtractive Schooling,”

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Aimee V. Garza and Lindy Crawford present us with a study of an elementary school situated within a prestigious school district and has undergone a rapid demographic shift in recent years. This study examines how the school has accommodated a growing number of linguistically and culturally diverse learners and struggles to retain the high standards of the district. Our next offering is a public policy examination of the Proposition 203 debate in Arizona, using the metaphor of WAR in the debate. Eric Johnson in “WAR in the Media: Metaphors, Ideology, and the Formation of Language Policy” examines the use of metaphor theory to uncover the rhetorical strategies applied in the media by the English for the Children campaign in order to position the proposition in the most favorable way and make bilingual education look as negative as possible. This study gives us another view of the public policy disagreement. Kathryn Lindholm-Leary and Graciela Borsato follow with a study of Hispanic high school students and mathematics. In “Hispanic High Schoolers and Mathematics: Follow-Up of Students Who Had Participated in Two-Way Bilingual Elementary Programs,” Lindholm-Leary and Borsato describe the serious under representation of Hispanic students entering the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. This study looks at the effects that two-way bilingual education programs have on preparing students mentally and academically to the extent that they are more successful than the traditional low-socioeconomic status students often described in the literature. In their article “Learning English Bilingually: Age of Onset of Exposure and Rate of Acquisition Among English Language Learners in a Bilingual Education Program,” Jeff MacSwan and Lisa Pray compare the rate at which young children enrolled in bilingual education programs and older children learn English. The evidence supports the underlying rationale of bilingual education programs, and suggests that English-only programs may inhibit successful learning of academic subject matter. In another study of bilingual programs, Leslie Reese, Ronald Gallimore, and Donald Guthrie examine ways in which outcomes vary for students who had been in traditional transitional bilingual education programs. In their article, “Reading Trajectories of Immigrant Latino Students in Transitional Bilingual Programs,” students from similar socioeconomic and language backgrounds were tracked during their elementary and middle school years and tracked in terms of their performance objectives. This article also examines school factors potentially associated with variations in school performance. “La Enseñanza del Discurso Académico a Estudiantes Bilingües en los Estados Unidos: Reflexión y Estado de la Cuestión” by Aixa Said-Mohand is an essay that offers teachers of Spanish (Teaching Spanish as a Heritage Language) several suggestions to consider. These have to do primarily with the acquisition of academic discourse in spoken as well as in written form by primarily bilingual students. This work offers a panoramic view of Hispanic students in the United States as related to their sociolinguistic context.

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The Research in Practice by Byeong-keun You examines four Korean children in the context of attempting to retain their heritage language. Byeongkeun You, in “Children Negotiating Korean American Ethnic Identity Through Their Heritage Language,” provides an interpretive reading of focus group interviews with the four students. It examines how these Korean children are negotiating their ethnic identity as Korean Americans while learning Korean as a heritage language. The importance of heritage language is demonstrated. This issue’s offering in the book review category is by Michael J. Orosco. Orosco offers a frank discussion and analysis of Do You Speak American? by Robert MacNeil and William Cran and delves into the issue of sociolinguistics from the perspective that the authors proffer. The discussion centers on the diversity of language patterns that seem to be changing American English. The discussion is excellent.

Alfredo H. Benavides, Ph. D. Lubbock, Texas November 2005

References
Menken, K., & Holmes, P. (2000). Ensuring English language learners’ success: Balancing teacher quantity with quality. Framing effective practice: Topics and issues in education English language learners. Available from National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, http://www.ncela. gwu.edu/pubs/tasynthesis/framing/5teacherquality.htm

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