California elections & bilingual ed

Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Thu Jun 4 14:55:43 PDT 1998

At 01:37 PM 6/4/98 -0700, christine wrote:
>Really? I had heard that initial polls indicated that a slight majority
>of hispanics favored the initiative. I was interested in seeing how that
>would change as more people read and thought though the terms of the law
>(not that you would expect the pollers to actually poll people who speak
>spanish or other languages, or don't have a phone). If students are
>spending 8 years learning english as a second language, there is obviously
>something wrong with the program and I could understand how immigrant
>parents would want to really change the education going on at their
>schools. But it is super hypocritical for conservatives who always trumpet
>local control of schools to create a mandate from up-high on the specifics
>of classroom pedagogical style - ditto for these mandated phonics
>instruction proposals.

Look, you are barking at a wrong tree. I am not a conservative swine trying to control from above education for the poor. All I was saying that it is futile, in my opinion, to fight for cultural programs in lieu of economic issues. Besides, I was refering to the assessment of the situation expressed in The Nation several weeks ago, and did not know until recently how the actual votes broke down by ethnic groups.

The problem with Hispanics is not in the absence or presence of bilingual education, but the lack of economic opportunity and, yes, the culture of poverty. Example: when I taught in a community college in central CA I would her stories from Hispanic females, that going to college was a real challenge for them, because it was discouraged by their families ans communities. A friend of mine teaching in HS told me true horror stories about female studens of hers being beaten up by their boyfriends or fathers for staying in school after hours and doing assignments. Even though CA law mandated reporting such indcidents to the police, her students asked her not do it fearing for their safety.

As far as your assessment of public education in this country is concerned, I agree. I cannot think of any other developed country that institutionalized the caste system into their education under the guise of local control (not to mention the use of the diabolic device known as the multiple choice testing). But I also think that focusing on cultural identity (bilingual ed) is a diversion from real problems. Not just for conservatives, but for liberals as well.

For example, that crypto-Nazi swine "Adolf" Giuliani just forced CUNY to cut most of its remedial education program which is going to have a far greater effect on the accessibility of higher education to the poor an minorities (at least in New York City) than all bilingual ed programs combined. Yet few people on this list, or elsewhere, shed a tear over it - because, I suspect, it does not directly touch the issue of ethnic identity so dear to liberal minds.

So to summarize, I do not fall for the conservative hogwash about 'standards.' Rather, I concur with the opinion, voiced in The Nation's article I referred to, that prop 227 was bound to pass because few people thought it was worth fighting for.


Wojtek Sokolowski

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