Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review July 29, 1999 /16 Av, 5759

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Tony Snow
Michael Barone
Mort Kondracke
Kathleen Parker
Dr. Laura
Michael Kelly
Bob Greene
Michelle Malkin
Paul Greenberg
David Limbaugh
David Corn
Marianne Jennings
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Chris Matthews
Nat Hentoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg
Bruce Williams
Dr. Peter Gott
Consumer Reports
Weekly Standard


Explaining away success -- IN 30 YEARS of following education reform, I've never seen a story quite like this one.

A year ago, California voters opted to end bilingual education programs in their state in favor of intensive English instruction for non-English speaking students. The bilingual education lobby screamed racism, and predicted nothing but heartache and failure for the children, most of whom are Hispanic.

Now, statewide test scores are in, and low and behold, immigrant kids made solid, if modest, gains across all subject areas. So, what do state education officials have to say about the results? "It's too early to celebrate or throw stones," warns Delaine Easton, state superintendent of education.

Pardon me for being cynical, but does anyone doubt what the response would have been had immigrants' scores gone down, even slightly, or remained stagnant? Instead, students with limited English proficiency improved their percentile ranking in every category, including subjects such as reading and math previously taught in the children's native language.

In Oceanside School District, which chose to implement the new program aggressively by near-total English immersion, second-graders improved their ranking by 11 points in reading, 14 points in math and seven points in spelling. Older students in the district, who had been in traditional bilingual education programs longer, made smaller, but still impressive, gains.

The results in Oceanside were so dramatic that the assistant superintendent for the district admitted during recent testimony before a Congressional subcommittee that even though he and others in the school district had initially campaigned to keep bilingual education programs, "these results are forcing us to re-evaluate our position on bilingual education."

Most other districts in the state posted smaller, but still significant, gains for limited English-proficient students. The only exception were the handful of school districts that refused to implement the new program; they lost ground. Yet, few in the state education hierarchy have been willing to tout English immersion as a success. And politicians have been even more reluctant to embrace the success of the program.

Why the hesitance? Because admitting that English immersion works casts doubt on the near fanatical obeisance to bilingual education some educators and politicians have been paying for years. No matter what the empirical evidence demonstrates, this group chooses to believe that non- English speaking kids were better off being taught in their native language year after year, even if it meant they learned English more slowly -- if at all.

What makes this story unique is how quick education officials and politicians are to explain away success. In every other arena of education, these same folks grab onto the slightest glimmer of improvement as if it were the Holy Grail.

A study shows Head Start programs contribute modestly to improved test scores for program participants for their first few years in school (though the gains seem to have no long-term effect), and virtually every politician and education expert calls for more funding to enable all low-income children to participate. Another study shows small class size results in slight gains in student test scores, and everyone from the president on down is committed to reducing class size as the No. 1 education priority. But when the issue is English immersion and ending bilingual education, suddenly, educators and politicians turn skeptics.

Despite these doubters, a handful of reformers are taking heed of the growing evidence that English immersion works. In Denver, a Hispanic school- board member recently won her fight to increase the amount of English being used in classes for limited-English proficient students and limit bilingual education to three years. In Arizona, a group of Hispanic parents is gathering signatures to put an initiative on the ballot similar to the one passed by California voters last year. In Houston, a Hispanic school-board member has proposed changes in the city's bilingual program that would emphasize "the ability to read, write and speak English as rapidly as possible." How much longer before the education establishment wakes up to the obvious? Bilingual education's days are numbered.


07/22/99: Fatherhood going to the apes --- literally
07/13/99: Does motivation matter in murder?
07/08/99: Is INS taking its cues from Seinfeld?
07/01/99: How to put doctors and patients back in control of medical-care decisions
06/24/99: Thou shall go postal
06/15/99: Unraveling of social order not limted to U.S.
06/09/99: Stand by your ma'am?
06/04/99: An answered prayer
05/25/99: When higher-education is taken prisoner
05/18/99: Are Jefferson's kin snobs and racists?
05/12/99: First-hand encounter with Chinese paranoia
05/06/99: Singer of Death
04/27/99: Beyond 'Why?'
04/23/99: Pick your ('protected-class' poison)
04/14/99: Why we’re a nation of procrastinators
04/06/99: How to spend Equal Pay Day
03/30/99: Are euthanasia advocates truly compassionate or do they merely fear being burdens themselves?
03/27/99: Time for the ‘Real Thing’?
03/16/99: How to keep anti-immigrant sentiments low
03/11/99: Why Bush is the GOP front-runner
03/03/99: If only these were normal times
02/24/99: Unsettling news about ‘feminism’ --- for the NOW gang
02/18/99: 50 years and trillions of dollars up in smoke --- literally?
02/11/99: Why Dems have the most to fear
02/02/99: Look who supports a people-of-color tax
01/26/99: When sports are truly a diversion
01/20/99: Ken Starr as Mark Fuhrman?
01/12/99: Leave Monica out of it
01/05/99: Forget Danny Williams, what about Bubba’s trade and campaign abuses!?
12/29/98: Ya never know
12/15/98: Whose reality?
12/08/98: Why the House must make sure Bubba gets his due punishment
12/02/98: Remember when libraries were for expanding the mind!?
11/26/98: When Thanksgiving means more than commercialism
11/17/98: To Ken S. --- if you'll only listen
11/10/98: What did you expect?
11/04/98: Shame on those who don't vote!
10/27/98: It's spreading!
10/20/98: It ain't over yet
10/15/98: Mourning motherhood
9/23/98: Sosa and the race card
9/23/98: Believable and truthful are two different things
9/16/98: Time for a new Amendment!
9/08/98: When silence is truly golden
8/25/98: Bears and blunders
8/25/98: Only consistency about Prez's anti-terrorism policy: its inconsistency
8/18/98: Is our 'broken-compass' beyond fixing?
8/11/98: Reno's risk
8/04/98: When Truth is of the highest odor
7/28/98: No way to protect ourselvesagainst a nut's wrath
7/22/98: These 'choice' advocates are being demonzied ... by the Left.
7/15/98: Will 'neonaticide' become the new buzzword?
7/07/98: Urge to mega-merge, stopped in time
6/30/98: Why take responsibility if
somebody else will pay?
6/23/98: Blinded by the red, or is it the green?
6/17/98: Flotsam in the wake of romance
6/10/98: We have a ways to go in the bilingual war
6/3/98: Tyson's triumph over tragedy
5/28/98: Why Univision's Perenchio is out to hurt his fellow Hispanics
5/20/98: Sometimes Buba actually tells the truth ... as he sees it
5/12/98: Chill-out on the chihuahua and ... Seinfeld
5/8/98: The revolution is just about over
4/28/98: Let's face it: both parties are full of hypocrites
4/21/98: Legislating equality
4/14/98: One down, many to go
4/7/98: Mexican mayhem?
3/31/98: Of death and details
3/25/98: Americans are unaware of NATO expansion
3/18/98: Intellectual-ghettoes in the name of diversity
3/11/98: Be careful what you wish for ...
3/4/98: The Press' Learning-disability
2/25/98: 50 States Are Enough!
2/18/98: Casey at the Mat
2/11/98: The legal profession's Final Solution
2/4/98: Faith and the movies
1/28/98: Clinton, Lewinsky, and Politics Vs. Principle
1/21/98: Movement on the Abortion Front
1/14/98: Clones, Courts, and Contradictions
1/7/98: Child custody or child endangerment?
12/31/97: Jerry Seinfeld, All-American
12/24/97: Affirmative alternatives: New initiatives for equal opportunity are out there
12/17/97: Opening a window of opportunity (a way out of bilingual education for California's Hispanic kids)

©1999, Creators Syndicate