Peace through victory - the American way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's The English, Stupid.

A story in today's San Diego Union-Tribune shows a way forward on immigation. The article describes the improvements in English proficiency among California students from Spanish-speaking households. (Here.)
School officials say the increase in fluency among students is real, and they credit new laws at the federal and state levels for the improvement.

Proposition 227, which California voters passed overwhelmingly in 1998, changed the focus of schools from bilingual education to an English-immersion model. Now, parents who want their English-language learners taught in a bilingual setting must go to the school and sign a waiver. Otherwise, the children are “immersed” in English in the regular classroom.

Since 2002, the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act has required schools to report test scores of English-language learners, and other special-needs children, in their own subgroup rather than lumping them in with the scores of all students.

Both laws have placed significant pressure on schools, and more specifically classroom teachers, to raise the English proficiency level of their students. If schools don't, they risk being cast as “underperforming” and face sanctions.
Laws designed to improve English proficiency among immigrant children are working. Proficiency in English is probably the most important step in assimilating immigrants into America's culture. For those Americans who are afraid of the influx of immigrants from Mexico this story should offer reassurances at America's ability to assimilate that population. For those Americans who claim to care about immigrants but oppose laws that mandate English education and accountability in education, may this story cause them to reconsider their opposition.


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