Support CAUSA Today!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oregon’s Anti-ESL Measure Debated

On Sunday, an article appeared in the Salem Statesman Journal addressing concerns over Bill Sizemore's anti-ESL ballot measure heading for Oregon's November Ballot. Aside from it's unintended consequences, the ballot measure would prohibit teaching a public school student in a language other than English for more than two years.

Although the article titled, Bilingual Debate, included several important points on why the measure is a bad idea for Oregon, it failed to address a couple crucial details much like the ballot measure itself. The article highlighted that if passed the measure would “take away the tools necessary for children to successfully master English", "would hurt the state's economy", and "create a one-size-fits-all model that takes local control of these programs out of the hands of teachers and parents".

What the article failed to make clear was that ELL students who receive some native language instruction are also taught in English. Studies prove time and again that this is how children learn a new language best. The measure would only change the time allowed for any native language instruction at all failing to account for specific needs of the individual child.

As the article does point out, language experts in Oregon and across the nation say it usually takes non-English-speaking children five to seven years of bilingual education instruction to be ready for mainstream English classes. The fact that some children grasp the new language faster than others shouldn't be a guide for every child. The fact is, how long a child should have support in their native language should be determined by the local community of parents, teachers, administrators and school boards, and not Bill Sizemore.

The second error in the article is Sizemore's description of 6-year bilingual courses. That has no basis in reality. The great majority of the state's ELL students are already taught mostly or exclusively in English. Bilingual education per se is relatively rare. And there are no "6-year programs," whether of bilingual education or any other model. Students are entitled to language assistance services until they become proficient in English, and that amount of time varies from student to student. None of the programs are designed to be 6-year programs.

The fact is Bill Sizemore's ballot measure is more confusing than anything else. It is not grounded in reality, nor does it lend itself to the understanding of Oregon's process for educating English Language Learners. This again begs the question if such an ill conceived and poorly written measure should even have a place on Oregon's Ballot.

The full article can be read by linking here.


Popular Posts

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Press Release Distribution