Bilingual Ed`s Next Big Thing

[Peter Brimelow writes:


Center for American Unity
sponsoring organization, is filing an Amicus
brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the
Sandoval case – an attempt by an Hispanic
immigrant to compel state governments to supply
services in her language, which (appallingly)
has succeeded in the lower courts. Creeping
institutional bilingualism – actually
foreign-language-ism – is the most visible
symptom of the American nation-state`s decay.
It`s persistent and pervasive, as Steve Sailer
shows. If you think this Next Big Idea can`t
happen here, look at Canada. French Immersion
public schools for a significant number of
English-speaking children now exist from coast
to coast. Funny thing: there`s no English
Immersion for the French-speaking minority.
is not about education. It`s
about political power.

voters have voted to abolish bilingual
education. Congratulations are due again to the
imaginative but flawed

Ron Unz
and his

English For The Children
. Significantly,
Unz`s initiative ran some 13 points ahead of
George W. Bush, who got

just 50% in Arizona.

But the bilingual
ed complex is already preparing a trendy counterstrike.
"English immersion" is popular? They`ll top that
by offering "dual-language immersion." It`s the
Next Big Thing—never mind that it implicitly admits that
the first 25 years of bilingual education were a dud.
Last spring, Education Secretary Richard Riley

called for
adding 750 dual-language schools over the
next five years. [Washington Post, Thursday,
March 16, 2000 ]

In these schools,
half the students speak English, the other half speak
Spanish. All the kids take half their classes in
Spanish, half in English.

(Not under George
W? He favors

education. He made the Republicans drop
their platform commitment to Official English [Republicans
Drop "Official" English From Platform; Continue
to Use It in Fundraising Appeals
]. Remember,
affirmative action was invented under another centrist
Republican, Richard Nixon.)

I spoke recently
with a federally-funded bilingual researcher who assured
me that the white kids flourish in dual-immersion
programs She even claimed they do better than
American-born kids learning only in English. I suggested
that this might be due to self-selection: i.e., the
natives who don`t do well in them drop out. I discovered
that this very nice lady, who has a Ph.D. in education
research, was not familiar with the concept of


She then told me
that the immigrant kids in the program score at the 50th
percentile or better in tests given in English. I
thought that seemed exaggerated. Many immigrant children
come from homes where nobody went past the 8th grade.
Mexican-Americans born to English-speaking parents score
well under the 50th percentile. None of this fazed her

I then noted that
on any test, half the kids must score under the 50th
percentile. She took

strong exception
to this.

All right, all
right, so the kind of people who get handed taxpayer
dollars to "research" how to educate children are
fools and

. But dual-language schools are clearly
the coming thing. White parents will be recruited on the
explicit appeal that speaking Spanish will help their
children make millions in the Latin American market
(which is sure to start booming … Real Soon Now).

A few caveats are
in order, however.

  • Dual-immersion
    schools currently have a classy reputation due to
    the expensive French private academies in America.
    In a public dual language school, however, your
    children will not be mixed in with the kids of
    snooty French multinational executives, but with the
    children of Latin American peasants.

  • Your children
    are not going to learn from them the kind of accent
    that will make them tons of money in Latin American
    business circles. Few white Americans understand how
    much rich white Latin Americans despise the
    Mexican-American accent.

  • Some children
    will no doubt thrive speaking two languages. But
    others will find it hurts their English.

Why Spanish anyway?
For international business, Japanese or Mandarin are
better. But, they won`t offer dual language programs in
Japanese because the Japanese can`t immigrate under the
perverse workings of the 1965 Immigration Act. Mandarin
programs will be restricted to a few areas. There`s no
proposal to offer French, German, or Italian.

Here`s what`s going
to happen: Dual-language education will quickly run out
of Anglo whites willing to have their own kids`
education undermined. Probably this will lead to a
renewal of forced school busing in some areas.
Generally, however, white parents will manage to escape
this latest scourge, just as they escaped racial
integration. So the public schools will draft
American-born Latino kids. This will weaken these
native-born Latinos` already tenuous grasp on English.
They will understand English well enough to watch
American television. But their accents will be so thick
that they will have little hope of assimilating into the
American mainstream.

Needless to say,
Unz`s "English-immersion" approach has flaws,
too. It works best when there are only a few immigrant
kids and lots of native English-speaking students to
immerse them in. But, due to the enormous volume of
immigration, two-thirds of immigrant children attend
schools where native English speakers are in the
minority. In fact, one-third of immigrant students
attend schools where 90% of the other students grew up
speaking their own language.

Sure, Ron`s
initiatives can force teachers to use only English in
the classroom. But what are these kids going to speak
where it really matters—out in the playground? As Judith
Rich Harris, author of the fine 1998 book

The Nurture Assumption

points out, kids don`t pick up the accents of
their teachers, or their parents, but of their
playmates. If they don`t need English to talk to the
other kids, then learning English is just another boring
classroom assignment like memorizing the state capitals.

Some problems just don`t have neat solutions. Except, of
course, not importing the problem in the first place.

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website
features his daily

November 12, 2000