Contra Costa Times

Thursday, March 12, 1998

Moms Fear for Their Children's Education
By ANDREW GORDON, Staff Writer

Several mothers sit around a table that's littered with half-filled cups of coffee and a plate of doughnuts, fretting about the future of their children's education at Meadow Homes Elementary School in Concord.

They are afraid that their children will be unable to advance, will lose their grasp of academic concepts, and will become easily frustrated.

While none of these women speak English, their expressions say plenty. They hope the educational system will give their children the opportunity to learn English, and will help them prosper and grow.

But they are afraid that Proposition 227, which would dismantle bilingual education in California and force children into an intense, one-year English course, will rob them of that future.

All of their responses were through a translator Roxanna Cashel.

"(Proposition 227) will hold back the children," said Marta Flores. "They will not know enough English to keep advancing, and they will get stuck."

Another mother, Gabriela Lopez, said that the bilingual education is also teaching academic concepts, which their children will lose if the focus is taken off numerous topics and focused solely on learning as much English as possible.

Maria Ramirez's son was taken out of a bilingual education course and put into a regular classroom, where she said he was uncomfortable and felt frustrated. His education suffered.

Flores added that if instruction is solely in English, it becomes more difficult for parents to help their children. If the children can only explain their lessons and homework in English, the parents become discouraged.

"It will affect the communication between parents and their children," added Sara Sanchez. "And they will lose their own culture."

"Right now, they are learning how to read and write in both English and Spanish," said Lopez. "But if you take away the program, they will not be able to do either very well in either language.

"They will not have enough education in English, and they won't be using their Spanish as much."

"The bilingual education program is very strong," asserted Flores. "It can be improved or modified, but it should never be taken away."