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Monday, July 28, 2008

Bilingual story misguides readers

Last week we reported on an article that appeared in a Salem Statesman Journal. The article titled "Bilingual Debate" included misinformation on Bilingual Education in Oregon. This letter to the editor appeared today clearing up the false notions so many like Bill Sizemore have and continue to perpetuate about Bilingual Education.

Bilingual story misguides readers
Salem Statesman-Journal
July 28, 2008

Your July 13 article "Bilingual debate" perpetuates the misinformed belief that bilingual education is delivered exclusively in the native language of the student.

In fact, the term "bilingual" means two languages. Students are always taught English. This article implies that a choice must be made to teach in English or the native language.

Learning English is essential to students' success in school and in the world at large. There is no bilingual education program that does not teach English as part of the core curriculum.

However, students who are learning English are unable to access the advanced English necessary to comprehend abstract concepts such as math, science and reading at their grade level. Bilingual education accomplishes this by presenting these abstract concepts part of the time in the native language.

No student is kept in a bilingual program for more years than necessary, usually two to three years.

Since 1974, a comprehensive body of educational research has shown that bilingual education is the most effective approach to ensure the academic success of English-language learners.

It is lamentable that a politician like Bill Sizemore can be seen as an authority on bilingual education. His initiative clearly shows his ignorance of what bilingual education is.

-Irma Fernandez Dash, Keizer and Susan Haverson, Keizer


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