The Pew Hispanic Center reports Texas students who struggle with the English language fell about 60% points behind other students in passing reading and math tests by the time they reached the eighth grade.
So what happens?
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) says the State needs to do a better job of educating kids with limited English proficiency.
The first problem is allowing the ridiculous, hyphenated-American status of people wishing to live and work and prosper in the United States of America without letting go of their life in the Old Country. Drop the hyphen, issue an address forwarding card back home, and be Just An American like the rest of us.
Whether the Old Country is Mexico, Montenegro or Malaysia, it’s great that you came here from there, but now that you're here, we speak, read, and conduct our lives in English.
Get it? Learn the language.
The second problem: such hyphenated-Americans who refuse to immerse themselves in the language of their new home. Families who move here and insist that nothing but their mother-tongue be spoken behind the front door are doing a huge disservice to the kids in the household who are in public schools. *
This is not a slam against bilingualism.
In fact, if you DON'T speak at least two languages within ten years, YOUR prospects for advancement in an ever-evolving global economy are going to be limited. Go with English and Spanish, English and Arabic or Farsi, or the dark horse, English and Chinese.
Just think, then you could read both versions of the instructions for your VCR!
They say, "Texas has got to invest in our English-language learners for the sake of Texas' future and its economy," –that’s a direct quote from MALDEF lawyer Luis Figueroa.
Translate this: Bravo Sierra.
Who is Texas?
Texas is us.
Texas is you and I, Senor Figueroa—so read my lips: Learn English at home. Or maybe you'd better understand it if I said, “apprende Englais en su casa.”
Same goes if you speak French, Chinese, German or Swahili---I just didn’t happen to have an in-studio interpreter for those dialects this morning…
Texas Demographer Steve Murdock says the numbers indicate average income for Texas households will drop by more than $6,500 within 30-years if these educational achievement trends aren't reversed. That’s two and a half generations…about what’s covered in some of these households where speaking English is verboten.
This is not just a Texas problem, by the way. The Pew people say 46% of fourth-grade students, who are limited-English-proficient, scored "below basic" in mathematics, the lowest level possible. That three-word phrase is a euphemism for kids who can't communicate (hear/speak/read/write) in English.
In a society that is more and more dependant upon math, science and technology, that’s a troubling trend. This is a problem that hits you and I in the pocketbook now.
When Juan can’t read Dedo y Wante** en Englais, it costs the state about 40% more to teach him.
There is legislation on Gov. Rick Perry’s desk that would create a pilot project for a dual language-immersion study. Ideally, kids could spend half of the school day learning in their native language and the other half in English.
Thing is, there’d be no need if newly immigrated familes made it a priority to learn the patois of their new home.
* Immigrants to America are typically the cream of the crop from whence they come. That would infer an intellect capable of easily assimilating the language and customs of The New World.
**That's "Tip and Mitten" for you Spanishly-challenged readers.