Bilingual Education

Bilingual education programs have been implemented for decades. Non-English
speaking students in bilingual education programs, however, have shown no
academic or social improvement compared to similar students in English-only
schools. The disadvantages of bilingual education programs outnumber the
advantages. In addition, recent statistics suggest the need for reconstruction
of the present bilingual education programs. Schools began teaching academics in
languages other than English as early as the 1700ís, but not until the

1960ís did society recognize the hundreds of thousands of non-English speaking
students struggling in the current system. Before that time, immigrants were
enrolled in non-English schools. The fight for a bilingual education program
started during the Civil Rights Movement. Immigrants, especially Latin and

Mexican Americans, observed the progress that African Americans were making and
decided to fight for "equal education." More than 50 percent of Spanish
speaking students were dropping out of school each year. The schools found a
definite need for intervention. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the

Bilingual Education Act which provided federal assistance to school districts to
develop bilingual education programs. Bilingual education programs were designed
to teach non-English speaking students in their native language. Theoretically,
with this kind of instruction, studentsí test scores and college admittance
would increase and lead to brighter career paths for students not proficient in

English. Federal law was expanded in 1974 when the Equal Education Opportunity

Act was signed in order to strengthen the rights of non-English speaking
students. This act ruled that public schools must provide programs for students
who speak little or no English. Rosalie Porter, author of "The Case Against

Bilingual Education," additionally points out that this was the first time
that the Federal Government "dictated" how non-English speaking students
should be educated (28). With such government support, bilingual education
looked like a program that would be the solution for the education of
non-English speaking students. Erie 2 The bilingual education program has a
noble purpose and worthwhile objectives. The purpose of the bilingual education
program is to teach non-English speaking students in their native language,
therefore improving their academic achievement and giving them more educational
opportunities. Noted writer Brian Taylor author of "English for the

Children," points out the many objectives of the bilingual education program:
the first objective is to teach students basic academic subjects in their native
language therefore increasing their academic progress. The program was also
designed to teach the students both reading and writing skills in their native
language and eventually to immerse them into classes taught in English. Students
in bilingual education programs learn English from the time they enter school.

All their academic classes, however, are taught in their native language. After
three years of English instruction, students are put into English-only classes.

The purpose of these objectives is to preserve the studentsí culture at school
(Taylor). As reported from "Education Week on the Web," bilingual education
programs are based on a maintenance program which preserves the studentsí
native language skills while teaching English as a second language ("Bilingual

Education"). This program would make it easier for the student to learn

English without risking success in academic classes. Bilingual education
programs sound beneficial; however, after implementation for over 30 years, the
results seen from bilingual education are not as positive as one would expect.

Bilingual education programs have not lived up to expectations. Bilingual
education programs are costing the United States billions of dollars. Statistics
show that students in these programs are not showing academic improvement. The
programs rely too much on native languages which leads to further segregation.

Students in California have suffered the most from bilingual education programs.

More than 25 percent (1.4 million) of the students in California public schools
are not proficient in English, and only five percent are gaining proficiency
each year. Many students leave school with limited spoken English and almost no
ability to read and write in English (Taylor). In some cases, California
students in bilingual education programs have taken more than eight years to
complete, rather than the expected three years. Each year, only six Erie 3
percent of Californian children in bilingual education classes are adequately
prepared to move into English classes. Unfortunately, drop-out rates are also
increasing. Seventeen percent of Hispanics in bilingual classes drop out
compared to the ten percent in English instruction classes. Latinos in bilingual
education programs have statistics similar to those of students in English-only
schools (Taylor). Bilingual education programs are not solving the problem they
were intended to solve. National test scores have shown that bilingual education
students are improving at the same rate as students taught only in English.

Gregory Rodreguez reports on the study done by Mark Lopez