Bakersfield Californian

Wednesday, April 22, 1998

Bilingual Ed Authority Opposes 227
By MARYLEE SHRIDER, Californian correspondent

DELANO Stephen Krashen, a recognized authority in bilingual education, voiced his opposition Tuesday to Proposition 227, the initiative that seeks to remove bilingual programs from California schools.

"This is America we speak English here and the children need to learn English as quickly as possible," Krashen said. "Because of that, I do not support Proposition 227."

About 50 educators and parents attended the educational forum on the Unz initiative, which will appear on the California ballot June 2. A professor of education at the University of Southern California, Krashen said he, too, wants California schoolchildren to speak English but ending bilingual education is not the best way to do it.

"These non-English speaking kids are going to be placed in mainstream classes after only 180 days of specialized instruction in English. How much English can be learned in that limited amount of time?" Krashen asked.

The proposition allows non-English speaking children to attend "sheltered English immersion" classes for one school year before being placed in mainstream classrooms. But Krashen said his research showed that children who are literate in their own language show rapid learning progress in English.

"We know literacy transfers from language to language," he said. "The amount of education a child has received in his first language is the critical variable."

If the proposition passes, it will take control away from local school systems, said Krashen. He acknowledged that problems exist in bilingual programs but dismantling them completely could prove disastrous.

"How many generations will suffer under this untested plan," he said. "What we're trying to prevent here is a destructive experiment with English."