Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, July 16, 1997
Letter to the Editor
Ruben Navarette Jr.'s portrayal of public opinion on bilingual
education (Opinion, July 6) is not quite accurate. He claimed that in the
Times poll, "83% of Latino parents . . . favor English-language instruction
as soon as their children begin school, while only 17% support native-language
instruction." Here is the question asked, and the results:
"Which of the following do you most
prefer for teaching students who speak limited English?" Among Latinos,
57% answered "mostly English with some help in their native language,"
26% answered "only in English as soon as they enroll in school,"
and 17% answered "native language until they are ready to learn English."
This data needs to be interpreted carefully.
Few supporters of bilingual education would choose the third option, which
appears to call for no English exposure at all at the beginning. In other
words, only 17% of the Latino respondents supported an extreme version
of bilingual education. In addition, only 26% preferred programs with no
instruction in the first language.
Most experts on bilingual education recommend
a program that includes English from the beginning, and moves children
into more English instruction as they are ready for it. The first option
is not exactly this kind of program, but it is the closest among the three
options, and it received the most support.