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Political Parties and Bilingual Education
Politics, throughout history, has influenced various decisions. Bilingual Education has been subject to this. This very controversial debate has been a hot political issue throughout all five major political parties. This paper will disucss the background on policy issues, as well as the feelings of the parties regarding bilingual education. It will then throw a pitch as to how to address these differences.
Is bilingual education common in the United States' schools? Not yet, but each year more schools in varied contexts throughout decide to implement either one-way or two-way bilingual enrichment classes. Currently ESL pullout, the least effective and most costly model, remains the most common type of program for English language learners in the United States. ESL pullout is expensive because it requires extra ESL resource teachers. It is less effective because students miss important academic subjects while they attend ESL class.
Some of the laws that were applied to bilingual education started as early as 1967, when Congress passed the Bilingual Education Act in 1967. Bilingual education was virtually unknown in schools serving minorities, especially American Indians. With few exceptions, these schools emphasized English-only curricula and punitive practices explicitly designed to extinguish native languages and cultures with most American Indian communities in fact had little voice in the schooling of their children. As of 1991, Indian students continued to experience the highest school failure and dropout rates in the nation.
The Bilingual Education Act, incorporated in 1968 as a Title VII amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, afforded the opportunity and some financial means to improve this situation. With the overarching goal of equalizing educational opportunities, the Bilingual Education Act (BEA) called for new and imaginative programs for children disadvantaged because of their inability to speak English. Nowhere have these effects and interactions been more evident than in Indian schools and communities in the southwestern United States where some 26 indigenous languages with abundant tribal groups coexist (McCarty, 1994). In its first year of funding, the BEA supported 76 local programs, only five of which served American Indian students. Within a decade, that number grew to nearly 70. The programs served a diverse student population and had a variety of aims, but most included the development and use of teaching materials incorporating the native language culture. In 1977, the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education also was funded as central research and information source. The 1980 reauthorized BEA streamlined those support services by establishing regional Bilingual Education Service Centers (BESCs) staffed with curriculum, evaluation, program development, and information specialists.
While Title VII was spared from the Reagan Administration's block grant consolidations shifting education program authority to the states, Title VII and other Indian education programs nonetheless suffered major funding cuts under the newly created Department of Education. At least one important plus emerged from the Reagan era consolidations as regional training centers were included under new super centers.
Politics has always played a major role in bilingual education. Currently, different parites have different views on the concept.
President Bush's proposed education plan would get rid of a stipulation that the federal government give preference to bilingual education over English-only programs -- a move that worries some bilingual education supporters and wins high praise from opponents of the instructional approach. Rep. Jeff Flake, R- Ariz., said it was appropriate to end the preference for transitional bilingual education, a method that has commonly been used in states with large concentrations of Hispanic immigrants. The federal government pushes three out of four dollars to transitional bilingual education programs. According to the Republicans, this is a terrible thing because it pushes states away from what might work, such as English immersion.
English immersion, in which students are taught overwhelmingly in English, has become a popular alternative to bilingual education as that method increasingly has come under attack. Voters in Arizona and California have opted to replace transitional bilingual education with English immersion.
The Republicans realize that the federal government can't "mandate" English immersion, but they contend that taking away a federal preference for bilingual education is a step in the right direction. Republicans feel that the reason we have these schools continuing to use bilingual education programs is they get federal funds for doing so. Hence, Republicans feel that the solution is to take away the money for bilingual education, and then this problem would not even be an issue.
Like the Republicans, the Reform Party is also against bilingual education. They base their feelings on studies and reports that have been done, all which prove the notion that bilingual education does not work. Bilingual education programs have been implemented for decades. According to them, 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. The Green Party points to statistics in their argument. In addition, recent statistics suggest the need for reconstruction of the present bilingual education programs. 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% (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 percent of Californian children in bilingual education classes are adequately prepared to move into Democrats
The Democrats feel that the United States has the resources for bilingual education, so hence, the program should continue. They feel that there has been a deliberate attempt to get the resources away from bilingual education."
The Democrats feel that the president's plan to eliminate the bilingual education preference and other changes Mr. Bush has proposed in programs for limited-English-proficient students will harm these students. According to the Democrats, American educators have argued that the aim of education should be to assimilate a foreign student into the American mainstream, become good American citizens, and not keep their ethnic identity. The proponents of bilingual education believe that this form of instruction belittles a child's ethnic and cultural heritage, creates low self-esteem, and fosters a high dropout rate. Therefore, certain bilingual education approaches encourages students' to maintain their language, ethnic and cultural identity, while at the same time learning a new language and culture altogether.
The Green Party
Green politics is an ecological approach to politics that links social and ecological problems. Ecology studies the relationships among organisms and their environment. Political ecology brings human institutions and ideologies into this holistic perspective.
They find that the same institutions and ideas that cause the exploitation and oppression of humans also cause the degradation and destruction of the environment. Both are rooted in a hierarchical, exploitative, and alienated social system that systematically produces human oppression and ecological destruction.
For the Greens, therefore, the fights against racism, sexism, class exploitation, bureaucratic domination, war, and all other forms of social domination and violence are central to the movement for an ecologically sustainable society. In order to harmonize society with nature, we must harmonize human with human.
Hence, the Greens view the fight for bilingual education as a fight against racism, and are for the notion. According to them, bilingual Education provides instruction for students in two languages. The primary goal of bilingual education in the…[continue]
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