Sept. 6, 2000
"Surprising," "remarkable," "totally unexpected" were the
superlatives with which the New York Times reported the rise in second-
grade test scores in California two years after the passage of
Proposition 227, ordering the public schools to terminate Bilingual Education. The bureaucrats
and payrollers whose jobs depend on the
Bilingual Boondoggle had predicted "catastrophe"
because they didn't believe that little kids could learn English so fast.
Bilingual education is a tax-paid multi-billion-dollar bureaucracy
whose real purpose is to provide jobs for an army of Spanish-speaking
payrollers. There never was any research that proved it is the way to
teach English to immigrants, and now the proof of its failure is
Bilingual education always was a misnomer because it doesn't teach
two languages; instead, it keeps immigrant children languishing in
Spanish-speaking classes for six years or more, often failing to
graduate. The new test scores are a personal vindication of Silicon
Valley entrepreneur Ron Unz, who organized and largely financed Prop
227 in 1998.
California second graders classified as limited in English
increased 9 percentage points in reading scores over the last two
years, rising from the 19th percentile in national rankings to the
28th. In mathematics, the same students increased 14 points, from the
27th to the 41st percentile.
Some bilingual advocates are busy trying to deny the facts, but
Ken Noonan, the superintendent in Oceanside (near San Diego) who
strictly implemented the new law with his 5,000 Spanish-speaking
students, discovered that they learned how to read English within nine
months! That's better than a lot of public school children who never
had a foreign-language problem in the first place, and far better than
children in neighboring districts where the administrators skirted
compliance with Prop 227 and now claim that other factors must explain
the difference in scores.
Yes, there is an additional factor to explain Oceanside's success
story: Noonan also started a phonics reading program, the common-sense
system that the public school establishment has been fighting for
years. Phonics is essential to learning how to read, and it's
especially helpful to Spanish-speaking kids because Spanish is a
completely phonetic language.
Noonan's earlier opposition to Prop 227 was colored by his
personal experience with his Mexican mother who never learned English.
It took the shock treatment of Prop 227 to teach him that 5-, 6- and 7-
year-olds can really "learn formal English, both oral and written, far
more quickly than I ever thought they would," and, of course, far more
easily than adults.
Bilingual education was an expensive tax-financed remedy for a
non-existent problem. America didn't suddenly develop a problem with
non-English-speaking immigrants in the 1970s.
Millions of non-English-speaking immigrants had been coming to
America for a couple of centuries. Sometimes the older generation,
like Mr. Noonan's mother, never learned English, but when their
children went immediately into schools where only English was spoken,
they learned English rapidly and learned to speak it without a foreign
That is called the immersion method. It worked just fine until
liberal busybodies, with too much tax money at their disposal, decided
to experiment on vulnerable immigrant children whose parents didn't
know how to combat the system.
Of course, immigrants who come to America want their children to
speak English! They know that speaking English is the sine qua non of
becoming an American.
Speaking English is the entry key to American cultural, social,
academic and economic life. Failing to teach immigrant children
English as their primary language creates a language apartheid that
results in a permanent, non-English-speaking subculture, and that is
unfair to everyone.
The liberals who sit astride tax-funded bureaucracies are like the
German philosopher Friedrich Hegel who, when told by a contemporary
that his theories did not comport with the facts, replied, "So much the
worse for the facts." On August 11, President Clinton in Los Angeles
issued Executive Order 13166 to proclaim the inability to speak English as a protected civil right.
Our laws require that naturalized citizens must demonstrate "the
ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the
English language." But Clinton's EO 13166
orders every federal agency
to "develop and implement a system by which LEP [Limited English
Proficiency] persons can meaningfully access [taxpayer-provided]
Any agency not complying with this EO will be found guilty of
discriminating on the "basis of national origin" in violation of
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Clinton thus makes it the job of the government to seek out all
those who can't be bothered to learn English and make sure that they
get their food stamps, welfare checks, and other taxpayer-paid
benefits. Will this new federal outreach also include providing
ballots for the November election with subtle innuendoes that these
"services" depend on voting for Al Gore?