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by James Reza    Wed, Dec 21, 2011, 02:57 PM

“Do to Others as You Would Have Them Do to You” — Luke 6:31

A few weeks ago I got a good laugh when I read in my local newspaper a piece titled, Principal retires amid inquiry into comments.”  Seems that Arlington (TX) school officials reprimanded a principal, Mr. John Walkinshaw, of Bebensee Elementary, when he made comments that it was unfair to offer bilingual education to Hispanics only.  Mr. Walkinshaw stated that he wanted to expand the bilingual program to include:  Asians, Muslims and other ethnic groups who have not been offered the same type of bilingual programs Hispanic students have access to.

After I read the article I felt like calling Bebensee Elementary School and request Mr. Walkinshaw’s phone number, or his email address.  But, I opt not to.  Some of you might wonder what I wanted to discuss with Mr. Walkinshaw. Folks, I wanted to convince Mr. Walkinshaw and plead with him not to pursue his quest for expanding bilingual programs to other ethnic students.  If anything, I wanted to tell him that his school would better serve and educate minority students with the exception of Hispanic students whose parents want it, if they were never in a bilingual program.

Since its inception, at the apex of the Great Society, bilingual education act of 1968 passed congress without a single dissent.  Americans, however, have spent the past 40 years debating what it was meant to accomplish.

As an American Hispanic I, for years have written, debated on radio and TV with educators, politicians and Hispanic groups on the dismal track record of bilingual education.  One bilingual program that showed promise here in Fort Worth was Immersion (a method of language teaching that involves teachers and students using the foreign language, in this case, English, at all times).  The same method the nuns used on my fellow Hispanic students and me at my Catholic school back in the 50s that worked extremely well for all of us.  Sadly, the Immersion Program was discontinued.

According to the New Century Foundation (a nonprofit organization that studies immigration and race relations), Hispanics drop out of high school at three times the white rate and twice the black rate.  Even third-generation Hispanics drop out of school at a higher rate than blacks and are less like to be college graduates.  From 1992 to 2009, Hispanic illiteracy in English rose from 35 percent to 44 percent.  The average Hispanic 12th-grader reads and does math at the level of the average white 8th-grader.  Some white, black, Asian, etc. individuals reading these dismal stats of Hispanic poor scholastic achievements might wonder, “Why should I care about this bilingual nonsense?”  My fellow Americans of all stripes, these are YOUR hard earned tax dollars being ill spent in our public school systems throughout our country!  What a waste of money and minds!

In 2010, a study by the Center for Education Policy Texas Public Policy Foundation educator, Christine Rossell, PhD, revealed that as practiced in Texas, bilingual education is the practice of keeping students with Hispanic surnames, whether they know English or not, in segregated classrooms where they receive no opportunity learn English.  The result is a massively high dropout rate, and the complete inability to learn.  The study further revealed that bilingual education is more expensive than better bilingual programs such as English immersion and is the least educationally effective.

A few years ago, a dear friend, and Ft. Worth School Board Administrator, Dr. Robert McAbee, my Print Shop instructor when I attended Tech High in the 50s, called me.  Dr. McAbee asked me if I would go to Metro School in my old neighborhood in North Fort Worth to speak to the students. Metro School was a school that tutored and counsel high school students with poor grades from quitting school. I agreed to help Mr. McAbee and arriving at Metro School I was shocked at the makeup of the students I was to address.  Most of the 30+ students were Hispanic.  I began my talk by asking the students where they lived.  Most said they lived west of N. Main St.  I then asked the boys if they ever went to the Boys Club on the west side of N. Main.  Most said they did.  I then told them that when I was a young boy, I, along with their parents were not allowed to rent or buy a house where they now live and Hispanic boys were not allowed to join the Boys Club.  Also, many restaurants just a few blocks from the school did not serve Hispanics.  Their parents nor mine were not allowed to be postmen, police officers, firemen, nor work in city and state government jobs other than as custodians or maids.  Thus, they worked at packinghouses, pick cotton or other crops, worked in hotels or cafes washing dishes, cleaning rooms, or cooking.
I went on by telling them that if our parents finished high school or went to college many jobs were not available to them, which is no longer the case today.  Hispanics can now work, live, and eat wherever they want. But, if you’re not educated, I assured them that Hispanics will continue doing the low paying jobs our parents and grandparents did no more than 40 years ago.  I instructed the boys to spend more time studying math and English instead of working on their worthless low rider cars.  I also told the girls that in a few years many would hopefully be married and have kids.  I asked them, “Girls, who would you rather marry, a guy with a Lexus or Mercedes or one whose car goes up and down?  Would you want your husband to make lots of money to support you and your kids plus buy you and your kids clothes at Macy’s or one who gets minimum wage and  buy your kids and your clothes at the flea market or garage sales?”  All the girls said they wanted their husbands to be successful and educated much to the disgust of the boys.  Leaving Metro School, some, but not all of the students said they were going to study hard, finish school and hopefully attend college.

It is my hope that educators like Mr. Walkinshaw will learn to teach minority students as the wonderful nuns taught us Hispanics in my Catholic school and do unto to them as the nuns did unto us.  Which is, to teach them English well to give them a better chance to succeed in the Good Old USA!


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Comments (3)add comment
written by Pope1944 , December 22, 2011

Well said James. The idea of immersion goes way back and not just for Spanish. It's how I learned French in school back in the 50's in Detroit. The thought of not learning the language of a country I chose to live in does not make sense to me but apparently we are in the minority as our educators and governments have decided to use Spanish as the official second language of the USA.

written by Chris Gomez , December 23, 2011

Bien escrito, Gino. Estoy de acuerdo con esto.

written by Charlie Alvarado , December 23, 2011

“Do to Others as You Would Have Them Do to You” — Luke 6:31

Do you really believe that this dude wants others to do to him what he does to others??


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