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Education Reporter

From the Education Reporter Mailbag:

Bilingual Boondoggle 
When I was a student attending public school in New Mexico, my parents and I were constantly harassed about taking tests designed for bilingual students. These tests were to evaluate the success of the district's bilingual programs.

I was not a bilingual student. All of my education, beginning with my mother's instruction, was done in English. I could read (thanks to Phyllis Schlafly's advocacy of phonics) by the time I was four, and had been speaking English (and Spanish) since I was 11 months old.

The school system wanted me to take the tests because I was listed as a bilingual student, although I had never had a single bilingual class. They used me and my academic success to pad their scores, knowing that I, and other students like me, would score well on English proficiency tests. Their hope was that our scores would raise the average of their failing program, which kept the oversight analysts away and the money rolling in.

I took these tests all through elementary school without my parents' consent and without understanding why I was taking them. When they tried to test me in junior high, I was angered by the deception, and my mother stepped in to stop it. They tried again in high school and I simply refused to take the test. Eventually, I was brought to the principal, who explained that since I was listed as bilingual it was necessary for me to be tested. My mother again became involved and I led a mini-revolt of other students in the same position until school administrators backed down. Bilingual education is a joke. So many students enrolled in these classes have failed to become competent in English and are virtually unemployable except as unskilled laborers. It's a travesty of my town that graduates of bilingual programs, with their high school diplomas in hand, are washing dishes in restaurants owned by those who can speak and read English.

Thanks to my parents' insistence that I speak English first, foremost, and well, I graduated from high school near the top of my class in an Advanced Placement curriculum. I am a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in philosophy and theology. Now, I hope I can join you in your fight to end this waste of taxpayers' money. 
Stephen R. Sanchez

I teach in Texas, and for years I have decried the fact that students are pulled out of my reading class for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes where they fall farther and farther behind. In my district and, I assume, in most school districts in Texas, these students are not receiving the education they deserve and their parents are being sold a bill of goods.

There is pressure to pass ESL students which, in turn, creates more problems for them. I have two girls in my 5th-grade homeroom who are probably on a 2nd-grade level. They have been passed on and are well aware that they cannot read. 
Cherie Saylor Garrett

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