Cheating Our Children
As a teacher, the question I am
most often asked is: “Why doesn`t my child
learn anything in school?”
“Your child doesn`t learn,”
I tell parents, “because education is no longer the
primary objective of California public schools.
Academic excellence is subordinate to
English language development, multiculturalism,
ethnic awareness and the
celebration of diversity.”
Not many people like that brutally
frank answer. But it`s drawn from observations made from
nearly twenty years of experience at the
Lodi Unified School District.
The latest “crisis” in
California education—we have them weekly—is the sorry
high school graduation rate.
According to a new study
released by the Civil Rights Project at
Harvard University the California graduation rate is
71 percent for all students; not the 87 percent figure
originally released. [Confronting
the Graduation Rate Crisis in California]
Graduation percentages are
significantly lower for Hispanics (60 percent) and for
Blacks (57 percent) than for any other
Given that the study was
co-sponsored by the
American Civil Liberties Union and the
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund,
readers will not be surprised to learn that the report`s
conclusion includes forming “…New coalitions to
advocate for improvements at the district and state
level, and implementing proven interventions designed to
reduce California`s dropout rates.”
Translation: more bureaucratic
interference and mumbo-jumbo that will further reduce
the likelihood that
your kid will learn anything.
But the Civil Rights Project misses
the Big—excuse me, make that the
Here it is:
- Despite the billions of dollars
spent, the millions of man-hours expended and the
tireless, heroic efforts of dedicated teachers
statewide to get Hispanic students on track to
Black Americans and
Caucasians who need extra academic help might not
get it because their teachers are, by law, focused on
- Students who make it to the
finish line and graduate are, in many cases, woefully
unprepared for college because their teachers were
spread too thin by having to cater to
English Learners. Many college freshmen enroll,
believe it or not, in
classes for reading and math.
To fully understand the futility
and frustration of trying to get non-English speakers up
to grade level while simultaneously tending to the
multiple needs of other students, I spoke to three
veteran primary school teachers in the San Joaquin
They all agreed that if you don`t
capture the students early—first grade is best—then the
task of educating them grows progressively harder with
every passing year.
If students don`t have a good
foundation by the third grade, they are essentially
Thus, the non-English speaker who
starts school in the third grade or later is all but
Nevertheless, no stone is left
unturned in the effort to help the ELs—as we in the
trade call English Learners—even at the
expense of other students.
One teacher I spoke to said that
because of her state and
federally mandated responsibilities to ELs, her
teaching job today has no similarity to what it was when
she started in the early 1980s.
to spend 30 minutes daily for EL lesson plans. That may
not sound like much but it`s more than 10 hours a month
taken away from time I could be helping other students.
there`s my bulletin board that has to be devoted to
multicultural themes and diversity awareness…more wasted
time. But God forbid that some administrator comes in
unannounced and my bulletin board isn`t up to snuff. I`d
be called on the carpet, that`s for sure.
“Naturally, we have regular nerve-racking reviews by
government agencies to ensure that EL lessons are being
properly taught, that my classroom reflects
multicultural sensitivity and that the reams of
paperwork I am forced to maintain are in order.
on-going evaluation of EL students` development means
more record keeping. The students are regularly `pulled
out` of class for testing to evaluate his progress.
Since few of them speak English at home, progress is
often slow. This means I have to back track and start
all over again.
ten years ago when we learned that we had to become
certified in cross-cultural instruction or risk losing
our jobs, we had to take English Language Development
classes and two years of a second language…on our own
time, of course.
often ask myself what for? Many parents have minimal
involvement. The families frequently move from one
district to another and never set down roots. The other
kids—Americans and legal immigrants— need help too
but there just isn`t the time. If I slight them, no one
would really notice. But if I ignore the ELs, my job
will be at stake. “
After more than twenty years of
studying illegal immigration, I`m still aghast at the
commitment to keeping the borders open even though
it means destroying the school system.
Here, according to the Harvard
Civil Rights Project, is what happened in local school
districts nationwide during the ten-year period from
1991 to 2001:
“First, LEP (Limited
English Proficiency) students comprise one of the
fastest growing subgroups in the country. The LEP
student enrollment in U.S. schools increased by 95% from
1991 to 2001 while the total school enrollment grew by
diverse states experienced 40-80% increases in their LEP
populations between 1991 and 2001.”
“Moreover, some states such
Georgia experienced LEP population increases of more
than 650% during the same time period.”
Bottom line: your tax dollars have
been spent to build more schools for more illegal aliens
or the children of illegal aliens.
And those students kept your kid
from getting the education he deserves.
As one parent told me: “I don`t
like my kid getting
What would advance our immigration
reform cause would be if school district superintendents
spoke out—as in: “Close the borders. We`re
cheating the children.”
Superintendents have a powerful
voice. Go to your local school board meeting and ask
yours why he stands by and allows illegal immigration to
deprive American children of a decent education.
American Association of School Administrators.
It`s their pedagogic—and
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.