But two frustrating and troubling stories about English language learners in last week`s paper have caused me to reconsider. Maybe I shouldn`t go looking for headaches.
reporter Jennifer Bonnet outlined in her lead story
"Ahead of Nationwide Trend," the English development
Lodi Unified School District has created for the
approximately 11,000—or 38 percent of total
enrollment—of its Hispanic non-English speakers. [Ahead
of Nationwide Trend, by Jennifer Bonnet,
Bonnet`s supplemental story,
"Local Program Reaches Out to Children, Parents,"
emphasized the importance of family reading and cultural
Program Reaches Out to Children, Parents, by
The language curriculum commitment
reflects the national trend that correlates to the
Unfortunately, the programs are not
In a sidebar to Bonnet`s story, various population statistics confirmed this same development throughout California: nearly two-thirds of all children living in the San Joaquin Valley are Hispanic, 25 percent of all its residents speak a language other than English at home and in Fresno County Hispanic residents make up 48 percent of the population.
Then there`s the national numbers: 11 million Hispanic students currently enrolled in K-12 and the staggering approximation that by 2050 a 116 percent increase in K-12 Hispanics will occur versus a non-Hispanic growth projected to be only 4 percent.
If those figures concern you, I
have bad news. They reflect the
least worrisome numbers relating to recent Hispanic immigrants to
from the Census Bureau: in areas of high Hispanic
concentration in southern
Their official classification is "low literate" meaning they can sign their name but cannot read a bus schedule or fill out a job application.
In my twenty years of teaching ESL, I have seen too many undereducated come into my classroom, stay a day or two, then leave without making any serious effort to learn. Worse, many who should be in class never bother.
My conclusion is that the programs consistently fail. Taken in their totality, they don`t warrant the financial outlay or the teacher time invested. You might as well light a match to your money.
Every statistic available today on English proficiency since I began teaching in 1986 is dramatically worse.
High among the reasons that the aggregate Hispanic population does not learn English is that illiterate people add to itself at a rapid rate. Between 2000 and 2006, the San Joaquin Valley`s Hispanic population increased from 30 percent to 36 percent. No end is in sight.
Bonnet`s stories referred to district "reach out" programs that advised non-English speaking parents of their rights and educational options.
However, it is important to understand
that the responsibility for effective Mexican parenting
and child rearing lies in
That`s the deal that
Toward the end of the show, a
caller asked Fox: "Don`t the leaders of
Fox, caught off guard, replied:
"It`s our main obligation, our first obligation, to
build up these opportunities in
Despite Fox`s pledge, last year in
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.