Los Angeles Times
Sunday, January 25, 1998
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Imagine, if you will, an AIDS vaccine is put on the market. However,
only 20% to 30% of all those infected have access to this vaccine, and
95% of all persons with AIDS are not being cured.
Given these numbers, does it make sense to
eliminate the use of this AIDS vaccine because 95% of those with AIDS are
not cured? Of course not; clearly the failure rate would be primarily attributable
to the lack of access to the vaccine, not to the efficacy of the vaccine.
Well, this is exactly what proponents of
the Unz initiative would have us believe. It is well documented that only
20% to 30% of all limited-English-proficient students are enrolled in a
bilingual education program. They claim that only 5% of all limited-English-proficient
students are reclassified each year, therefore we need to eliminate bilingual
Assuming that these reclassification figures
truly reflect success / failure, it does not make sense to eliminate bilingual
education. In fact, these numbers indicate the need to improve access to
Moreover, there is not one language acquisition
expert who supports the proposition that a person can become fully literate
in a second language in one year. It is one thing to learn "playground
English"; it is another thing to be fully literate in English.
Linguistic and education experts all agree
that language acquisition takes at least five years. The goal of bilingual
education is to enable children to learn English, math, science, etc. The
Unz initiative will not only inhibit the learning of English, but math,
science and other subjects as well.
The Unz initiative is a one-size-fits-all
approach that will eliminate any and all local control of English language
instruction. That is, every school district will be compelled to implement
this obviously flawed approach--no exceptions.
Director, Community Development,
El Concilio del Condado de Ventura