Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bilingual parents: Talking to your child in your native language makes it easier for them to learn English

Good stuff.  Consistent with experience and prior research I've read.  Key quotes:

 They found that children who continue to learn another language after going to school and being immersed in English often show signs of having a better working memory, an enhanced ability to learn and improved concentration and attention.

From a practical perspective, speaking only English at home prevents children from communicating effectively with their parents, according to an article in Multilingual Living magazine.

Compiled by Emily Hales /Deseret News National

Parents who worry that speaking their native language at home will disrupt their child's ability to learn English have nothing to fear.
The editors of a new social policy report from the Society for Research in Child Development point out that in the United States, and other English-speaking countries, immigrant parents respond to the negative stereotypes of multilingual kids by speaking to their children what little English they know rather than communicating fully in their mother tongue.
"As a result, many parents coming to the U.S. and the U.K. from other countries inadvertently and tragically rob their children of vital language-learning skills," wrote Allyssa McCabe, one of the researchers, in Princeton University's Child and Family Blog.
Researchers from Griffith University examined the effect on Australian children of becoming literate in a minority language, and concluded that bilinguilism provides many advantages. They found that children who continue to learn another language after going to school and being immersed in English often show signs of having a better working memory, an enhanced ability to learn and improved concentration and attention.
From a practical perspective, speaking only English at home prevents children from communicating effectively with their parents, according to an article in Multilingual Living magazine.
"I’ve said this before, but I reiterate that children must be able to function/communicate effectively in their homes before they can function/communicate out in the community, so the native language cannot be stripped away, even for children with language delays," the article continues.
The Social Policy Report emphasizes that building a strong language foundation is more important than gaining proficiency only in the majority language. Parents who don't speak English aren't able to discuss topics in-depth with their children if the children only know the majority language, and the children miss out on opportunities to stretch their language comprehension and vocabulary.
"Parents who talk at length with their children regarding past experiences have children who excel in narrating, and this may in turn influence many other levels of language (e.g., vocabulary)," the report says.
One of the main concerns of parents who aren't native English speakers is that their children will experience a language delay, according to an article by The Hanen Centre, a Canadian nonprofit group that helps parents who have children with speech problems. However, while children who learn a second language usually experience a brief "silent period" as they adjust to the new language, they do not fall behind their monolingual peers in terms of language development.
"Bilingual children may say their first words slightly later than monolingual children, but still within the normal age range (between 8-15 months). And when bilingual children start to produce short sentences, they develop grammar along the same patterns and timelines as children learning one language," the article continues.
The research shows that learning the principles of a language and encouraging communication are important regardless of what language is being spoken. According to an article on, children will use the foundations they've been taught in their parents' language to understand complex principles in English. Learning their native tongue alongside English will also help them appreciate both sides of their multicultural identity.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us

How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us

Henry Cabluck/AP Images Texas State Board of Education members Cynthia Dunbar, Barbara Cargill, and Gail Lowe discussing curriculum standards, Austin, May 2008. Cargill, who was appointed chairwoman last year by Governor Rick Perry, has expressed concern that there are now only ‘six true conservative Christians on the board.’

“What happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas when it comes to textbooks”

No matter where you live, if your children go to public schools, the textbooks they use were very possibly written under Texas influence. If they graduated with a reflexive suspicion of the concept of separation of church and state and an unexpected interest in the contributions of the National Rifle Association to American history, you know who to blame.

When it comes to meddling with school textbooks, Texas is both similar to other states and totally different. It’s hardly the only one that likes to fiddle around with the material its kids study in class. The difference is due to size—4.8 million textbook-reading schoolchildren as of 2011—and the peculiarities of its system of government, in which the State Board of Education is selected in elections that are practically devoid of voters, and wealthy donors can chip in unlimited amounts of money to help their favorites win.

Those favorites are not shrinking violets. In 2009, the nation watched in awe as the state board worked on approving a new science curriculum under the leadership of a chair who believed that “evolution is hooey.” In 2010, the subject was social studies and the teachers tasked with drawing up course guidelines were supposed to work in consultation with “experts” added on by the board, one of whom believed that the income tax was contrary to the word of God in the scriptures.

Ever since the 1960s, the selection of schoolbooks in Texas has been a target for the religious right, which worried that schoolchildren were being indoctrinated in godless secularism, and political conservatives who felt that their kids were being given way too much propaganda about the positive aspects of the federal government. Mel Gabler, an oil company clerk, and his wife, Norma, who began their textbook crusade at their kitchen table, were the leaders of the first wave. They brought their supporters to State Board of Education meetings, unrolling their “scroll of shame,” which listed objections they had to the content of the current reading material. At times, the scroll was fifty-four feet long. Products of the Texas school system have the Gablers to thank for the fact that at one point the New Deal was axed from the timeline of significant events in American history.

The Texas State Board of Education, which approves textbooks, curriculum standards, and supplemental materials for the public schools, has fifteen members from fifteen districts whose boundaries don’t conform to congressional districts, or really anything whatsoever. They run in staggered elections that are frequently held in off years, when always-low Texas turnout is particularly abysmal. The advantage tends to go to candidates with passionate, if narrow, bands of supporters, particularly if those bands have rich backers. All of which—plus a natural supply of political eccentrics—helps explain how Texas once had a board member who believed that public schools are the tool of the devil.

Texas originally acquired its power over the nation’s textbook supply because it paid 100 percent of the cost of all public school textbooks, as long as the books in question came from a very short list of board-approved options. The selection process “was grueling and tension-filled,” said Julie McGee, who worked at high levels in several publishing houses before her retirement. “If you didn’t get listed by the state, you got nothing.” On the other side of the coin, David Anderson, who once sold textbooks in the state, said that if a book made the list, even a fairly mediocre salesperson could count on doing pretty well. The books on the Texas list were likely to be mass-produced by the publisher in anticipation of those sales, so other states liked to buy them and take advantage of the economies of scale.

“What happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas when it comes to textbooks,” said Dan Quinn, who worked as an editor of social studies textbooks before joining the Texas Freedom Network, which was founded by Governor Ann Richards’s daughter, Cecile, to counter the religious right.

As a market, the state was so big and influential that national publishers tended to gear their books toward whatever it wanted. Back in 1994, the board requested four hundred revisions in five health textbooks it was considering. The publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston was the target for the most changes, including the deletion of toll-free numbers for gay and lesbian groups and teenage suicide prevention groups. Holt announced that it would pull its book out of the Texas market rather than comply. (A decade later Holt was back with a new book that eliminated the gay people.)

Given the high cost of developing a single book, the risk of messing with Texas was high. “One of the most expensive is science,” McGee said. “You have to hire medical illustrators to do all the art.” When she was in the business, the cost of producing a new biology book could run to $5 million. “The investments are really great and it’s all on risk.”

Imagine the feelings of the textbook companies—not to mention the science teachers—when, in response to a big push from the Gablers, the state board adopted a rule in 1974 that textbooks mentioning the theory of evolution “should identify it as only one of several explanations of the origins of humankind” and that those treating the subject extensively “shall be edited, if necessary, to clarify that the treatment is theoretical rather than factually verifiable.” The state attorney general eventually issued an opinion that the board’s directive wouldn’t stand up in court, and the rule was repealed. But the beat went on.

“Evolution is hooey”

Texas is hardly the only state with small, fierce pressure groups trying to dictate the content of textbooks. California, which has the most public school students, tends to come at things from the opposite side, pressing for more reflection of a crunchy granola worldview. “The word in publishing was that for California you wanted no references to fast food, and in Texas you wanted no references to sex,” Quinn told me. But California’s system of textbook approval focuses only on books for the lower grades. Professor Keith Erekson, director of the Center for History Teaching and Learning at the University of Texas at El Paso, says that California often demands that its texts have a Californiacentric central narrative that would not be suitable for anywhere else, while “the Texas narrative can be used in other states.” Publishers tend to keep information on who buys how much of what secret, but Erekson said he’s seen estimates that the proportion of social studies textbooks sold containing the basic Texas-approved narrative range from about half to 80 percent.

Some extremely rich Texans have gotten into the board of education election game, putting their money at the disposal of conservative populists. No one has had more impact than James Leininger, the San Antonio physician who has had an intense interest in promoting school vouchers. He backed a group called Texans for Governmental Integrity, which was particularly active in state school board elections. Its most famous campaign was in 1994, when it mailed flyers to voters’ homes in one district, showing a black man kissing a white man and claiming that the Democratic incumbent had voted for textbooks that promoted homosexuality. Another organization Leininger has supported, the Heidi Group, sent out a prayer calendar in 1998, which unnervingly urged the right-to-life faithful to devote one day to praying that a San Antonio doctor who performed abortions “will come to see Jesus face to face.”

The chorus of objections to textbook material mounted. Approval of environmental science books was once held up over board concern that they were teaching children to be more loyal to their planet than their country. As the board became a national story and a national embarrassment, the state legislature attempted to put a lid on the chaos in 1995 by restricting the board’s oversight to “factual errors.” This made surprisingly little impact when you had a group of deciders who believed that the theory of evolution, global warming, and separation of church and state are all basically errors of fact.
In 2009, when the science curriculum was once again up for review, conservatives wanted to require that it cover the “strengths and weaknesses” of the theory of evolution. In the end, they settled for a face-saving requirement that students consider gaps in fossil records and whether natural selection is enough to explain the complexity of human cells. Don McLeroy, the board chairman who had opined that “evolution is hooey,” told Washington Monthly that he felt the changes put Texas “light years ahead of any other state when it comes to challenging evolution!”

The process by which the board came to its interesting decisions sometimes seemed confused to the point of incoherence. Things would begin tidily, with panels of teachers and expert consultants. Then the expert consultants multiplied, frequently becoming less and less expert, until the whole process ended in a rash of craziness. The science curriculum was “this document that had been worked on for months,” Nathan Bernier, a reporter for KUT in Austin, told National Public Radio.
Members of the [teachers’ association] had been involved…. People with Ph.D.s had been involved in developing these standards. And then at the last second, there was this mysterious document that was shoved underneath the hotel doors of some of the board members, and this document, at the very last minute, wound up—large portions of it wound up making its way into the guidelines.
In 2010, the board launched itself into the equally contentious sea of the social studies curriculum, and the teacher-dominated team tasked with writing the standards was advised by a panel of “experts,” one of whom was a member of the Minutemen militia. Another had argued that only white people were responsible for advancing civil rights for minorities in America, since “only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.”

“The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel,” McLeroy told Washington Monthly. “Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”

In their first year of work on social studies, the board agreed that students should be required to study the abandonment of the gold standard as a factor in the decline in the value of the dollar. If the students were going to study the McCarthy anti-Communist witch hunt of the 1950s, they were also going to contemplate “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in US government.”

The changes often seemed to be thrown out haphazardly, and to pass or fail on the basis of frequently opaque conclusions on the part of the swing members. In 2010, the board tossed out books by the late Bill Martin Jr., the author of Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, from a list of authors third-graders might want to study because someone mixed him up with Bill Martin, the author of Ethical Marxism.
The final product the board came up with called for a curriculum that would make sure that students studying economic issues of the late nineteenth century would not forget “the cattle industry boom” and that when they turned to social issues like labor, growth of the cities, and problems of immigrants they also take time to dwell on “the philanthropy of industrialists.” When it came to the Middle Ages, the board appeared to be down on any mention of the Crusades, an enterprise that tends to reflect badly on the Christian side of Christian–Islamic conflict. And when they got to the cold war era, the board wanted to be sure students would be able to “explain how Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict.” Later, they were supposed to study “Islamic fundamentalism and the subsequent use of terrorism by some of its adherents.” And that appeared to be pretty much all young people in Texas were going to be required to know about Arab nations and the world’s second-largest religion.

For the most part, however, the board seemed determined just to sprinkle stuff its members liked hither and yon, and eliminate words they found objectionable in favor of more appealing ones. Reading through the deletions and additions, it becomes clear that a majority of board members hated the word “democratic,” for which they consistently substituted “constitutional republic.” They also really disliked “capitalism” (see rather: “free enterprise system”) and “natural law” (“laws of nature and nature’s God”).

Study of the first part of the twentieth century should include not only the Spanish-American War and Theodore Roosevelt but also Sanford B. Dole, a Hawaiian lawyer and son of missionaries. When teachers get to Clarence Darrow, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh, they’d also better not forget Glenn Curtiss, who broke early motorcycle speed records. For the modern era, they needed to study “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s,” including Equal Rights Amendment opponent Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association. And when students learn how to describe the impact of cultural movements like “Tin Pan Alley, the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation, rock and roll,” the board demanded that they also look into “country and western music.”
That last one actually seems totally fair.

The social studies curriculum was perhaps the last hurrah for the extreme agenda that Don McLeroy, the anti-evolution dentist, had championed. When the discussions began, he could frequently rally a majority on the fifteen-member panel, with the consistent support of people like Cynthia Dunbar, who once wrote that sending children to public schools was like “throwing them into the enemy’s flames, even as the children of Israel threw their children to Moloch.” (She also once called Barack Obama a terrorist sympathizer.) In 2011, Dunbar announced her retirement; she had been commuting between Texas and Virginia, where she taught at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University School of Law. After McLeroy himself lost a Republican primary to a candidate who believes in evolution, Barbara Cargill, his successor as board chair, expressed concern that she was left with only “six true conservative Christians on the board.”

“Readable? I’ve never heard a discussion of that”

These days the Texas board is far less powerful than in its heyday. But in a way, it’s more influential than ever.

The state legislature has diluted the board’s ability to control what books local districts pick. And the expanding Web-based curricula make it easier for publishers to work around the preferences of any one state, no matter how big. But students all around the country will be feeling the effect of Texas on their textbooks for years, if not generations. That’s because the school board’s most important contribution has not been to make textbooks inaccurate. It’s been to help make them unreadable.
“Readable? I’ve never heard a discussion of that,” said Julie McGee.

The typical school textbook is composed of a general narrative sprinkled liberally with “boxes”—sidebars presenting the biographies of prominent individuals, and highlighting particular trends, social issues, or historical events. As the textbook wars mounted, those boxes multiplied like gerbils. It’s the ideal place to stash the guy who broke the motorcycle speed record, or the cattle boom, or, perhaps, the gold standard. (It’s also where, in bows to gender and racial equality, mini-biographies of prominent women and minorities can be floated.) In an era of computerized publishing, changing the boxes is easy. The problem comes when the publisher has to change the narrative, something many committees of experts may have labored over at the cost of millions of dollars.

All the bickering and pressuring over the years has caused publishers to shy away from using the kind of clear, lively language that might raise hackles in one corner or another. The more writers were constrained by confusing demands and conflicting requests, the more they produced unreadable mush. Texas, you may not be surprised to hear, has been particularly good at making things mushy. In 2011, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank, issued an evaluation of US history standards for public schools. The institute was a longtime critic of curricula that insisted that representatives of women and minorities be included in all parts of American history. But the authors, Sheldon Stern and Jeremy Stern, really hated what the Texas board had done. Besides incorporating “all the familiar politically correct group categories,” the authors said,
the document distorts or suppresses less triumphal or more nuanced aspects of our past that the Board found politically unacceptable (slavery and segregation are all but ignored, while religious influences are grossly exaggerated). The resulting fusion is a confusing, unteachable hodgepodge.
All around the country, teachers and students are left to make their way through murky generalities as they struggle through the swamps of boxes and lists. “Maybe the most striking thing about current history textbooks is that they have lost a controlling narrative,” wrote historian Russell Shorto.
And that’s the legacy. Texas certainly didn’t single-handedly mess up American textbooks, but its size, its purchasing heft, and the pickiness of the school board’s endless demands—not to mention the board’s overall craziness—certainly made it the trend leader. Texas has never managed to get evolution out of American science textbooks. It’s been far more successful in helping to make evolution—and history, and everything else—seem boring.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Texas rolls out security surge for its border with Mexico

Albeit violent, images like these make for great theater and an opportunity to occupy and further militarize an already militarized border.  They offer precious little in terms of real policy solutions to address what really must be for our leaders an "inconvenient humanitarian crisis" along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Note: Do check out my other post this morning on Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández' straightforward and cogent commentary in Washington this past week regarding his view of an appropriate placing of the onus for this human tragedy on our three countries:  Honduras, Mexico and the United State, but especially the U.S. because we are the consumers of the drugs that have paved the way to utter destitution and unending violence in Mexico and Central America.

On the topic of policy solutions, check out this letter at the link below was sent to President Obama by a large group of immigration scholars.  They provide a policy framework on how to address the border crisis of unaccompanied minors with children from Central America AND Mexico.

What can you do?  Contact your congressional representatives, asking for real policy solutions like these.  

Scholars make recommendations to the President and his administration
for Fair Treatment for Unaccompanied Central American Children

Category: Immigration Law Practice News | Published on: Monday, Jul. 14, 2014

Read this letter here: Professors and Researchers Letter Fairness for Central American Children


Texas rolls out security surge for its border with Mexico

DALLAS Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:58pm EDT

A Customs and Border Protection vehicle patrols near the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border near Mission, Texas July 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Eric Gay/Pool
A Customs and Border Protection vehicle patrols near the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border near Mission, Texas July 24, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Eric Gay/Pool

Related Topics

(Reuters) - Texas has launched a law enforcement surge to crack down on drug and human trafficking from Mexico in a move that comes as the state is about to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, officials said on Friday.

The surge, announced last month and recently implemented, places more law enforcement officials and resources on the border and will result in $1.3 million in additional spending a week for the Texas Department of Public Safety, officials from the department said, without offering a specific date when it was launched.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, seen as a potential Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential election, has blamed the Obama administration for not doing enough to halt a surge in children from Central America crossing the border. Perry said the influx of children has diverted U.S. Border Patrol attention from cracking down on criminal syndicates.

"Mexican cartels and criminal elements are taking advantage of this situation by further exploiting these gaps along the border to commit heinous crimes that will further their business," said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger.

During the nine months ending June 30, more than 57,000 children, many of them from Central America, were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, double last year's count, according to U.S. government data.

The White House and others have called the influx a humanitarian crisis. The Obama administration has requested an additional $3.7 billion from Congress to address the situation.

On Thursday, the department took media out to the Rio Grande to show how its fleet of gunboats is patrolling the waterway that divides Mexico and the United States.

“We know the enemy, the cartel, on the other side they have cover, they have concealment, they have the element of surprise. But what we enjoy is superior training, superior tactics, speed and overwhelming firepower," Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Charlie Goble told reporters.
The National Guard deployment that will begin within the next 28 days is expected to cost about $12 million a month with the troops helping the state's efforts to secure the border.

Perry has won praise for his moves among Republicans and criticism from Democrats who say he is spending millions on deployments that are more about politics than border protection.

(Reporting by Marice Richter; Additional reporting provided by pool reports; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Eric Beech)

‘Our Neighbor Isn’t Doing Its Part’

This is a must-read statement by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández' clear and concise commentary made during his visit in Washington this past week.  Selected quotes:

I would expect that that the electoral politics that are playing right now will not affect a decision that has to do with tending to a humanitarian crisis.
If you take a map of the municipalities where drugs pass, and overlay a map of the municipalities where the kids are coming, they match perfectly.
The advantage that you have here—if you can call it an advantage—is that the violence has been separated from the transit of drugs. That’s why for many officials and public servants the drug problem in the United States is one of public health. In Central America, the drug problem is life or death. That’s why it’s important that the United States assume its responsibility.
If they are only investing in border security and not in the source of the problem, in the genesis of the problem, then we will have more of the same.


‘Our Neighbor Isn’t Doing Its Part’

The president of Honduras on why the United States and its drug habit are to blame for the violence and kid immigrants fleeing Central America.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández came to Washington this week with just about the toughest hand a world leader can play: His tiny, impoverished country is both very dependent on what happens here in the United States and more or less without leverage to shape it. The only leverage, in fact, that Honduras and its small, equally troubled neighbors Guatemala and El Salvador have found recently has come in the form of small children, tens of thousands of whom have clambered over the U.S. border this year in numbers so large and so unexpected they’ve created an immigration crisis that, at the least, has succeeded in placing Central America’s plague of drugs, violence and poverty on the Washington agenda in a way it wouldn’t have been otherwise. That said, it’s still not clear what, if anything, will come of the new state of affairs—at least not when it comes to Honduras, so deadly that its city of San Pedro Sula has been dubbed “the murder capital of the world” and so politically troubled that Washington hardly blinked when its elected president was toppled in a coup a few years back. Politico Magazine editor Susan Glasser met with President Hernández Friday—and found a leader deeply skeptical about the United States, from its refusal to acknowledge the role our own demand for drugs has had in creating his country’s cycle of violence, to our poor record of delivering significant aid. Their edited conversation, translated from Spanish by Politico reporter Jose DelReal, follows.
Susan Glasser: Mr. President, we’re in crisis mode here in Washington over this question of the border. And in particular the plight of the children coming to the United States unaccompanied has captured the public’s attention. But the politics of this is, to be blunt, a disaster. There’s no real sense that we have solutions, or even that President Obama can win passage for his proposed $3.7 billion plan to deal with the crisis, and I’m curious what you most want to say to the president and to the politicians here in Washington. How much responsibility do they have for this crisis?

President Hernández: First, I would like to tell leaders in Washington: A Central America with violence caused by drugs, a Central America without opportunities, a Central America that doesn’t have space for economic growth at the rate the population needs, will be an enormous cost and an enormous danger to the United States. On the contrary, a Central America in peace, a Central America that is prosperous, a Central American with economic growth, a Central America where violence is controlled, is a great investment for the United States. It is a great benefit, not a cost.
Now, how to do that? That’s through shared responsibility. The United States is responsible, Central America is responsible, and Mexico is responsible. We have assumed our commitment [as in “responsibility”] and our visit today requires talking with leaders in Washington and structuring a plan dividing that responsibility. And I think that, until now, what we’ve been talking about with congressional leaders is moving on a good path. I would expect that that the electoral politics that are playing right now will not affect a decision that has to do with tending to a humanitarian crisis. When we talk about the children [on the border], they are human beings. Human beings who are in a difficult situation. In that sense, I would expect that the electoral debate doesn’t affect [the response].

SG: There’s been a big debate about who’s responsible for the influx of children coming here: how much is a result of confusion around U.S. law. You think that that does affect the children coming?

JH: That does.The problem is that that ambiguity, that lack of clarity, is used by coyotes [traffickers] to perversely deceive the families that are here, telling them that they can bring their kids and that their entry can be resolved legally later. But another problem is that they deceive the people in Central America, telling them, “take kids to the border and they’ll be received and admitted,” when we know that’s not true.

That confusion is due to a lack of clarity, but there’s another important cause in relation to Honduras. If you take a map of the municipalities where drugs pass, and overlay a map of the municipalities where the kids are coming, they match perfectly.

SG: San Pedro Sula [the Honduran city that is the murder capital of the world] is where most of the people are coming from.

JH: Exactly. But another side of it is the trafficking of dollars, payment for the drugs.

SG: Your point is that the United States is responsible for creating the demand for the drugs—and the violence that it has caused in the country—that we have not accepted really our share of the responsibility for that.

JH: We all share responsibility, from those who produce the drug to the transit countries, but also the country that uses the drugs. And the United States is the great consumer of the drugs. The advantage that you have here—if you can call it an advantage—is that the violence has been separated from the transit of drugs. That’s why for many officials and public servants the drug problem in the United States is one of public health. In Central America, the drug problem is life or death. That’s why it’s important that the United States assume its responsibility. They fixed the problem in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, separating the violence from drug trafficking, or at least controlling the violence.

SG: Your foreign minister was interviewed on NPR and said that it’s “outrageous” that the United States has spent so much money on border security and so little money helping Honduras and the other countries of the Northern Triangle. Do you agree with that? What should the United States be doing to assist Honduras more directly?

JH: I return to my point. A Central America at peace, with less drug violence, and with opportunities, is a great investment for the United States. On the contrary, if they are only investing in border security and not in the source of the problem, in the genesis of the problem, then we will have more of the same.

SG: And is that an outrage that we have our priorities so wrong?

JH: I would say that it’s a miscalculation. Of course for us it’s uncomfortable and frustrating knowing that our neighbor isn’t doing its part.

SG: President Obama has proposed this 3.7 billion dollar package, and even then it’s not clear whether Congress will actually approve that. Only a small amount, something like $300 million, is supposed to go directly to the countries in the region. Is there some more concrete form of assistance that would stop this flood of migrants?

JH: There was an initiative by the name of CARSI (Central America Regional Security Initiative) that all the countries of South America and the Caribbean see as a practical joke. In Guatemala many years back it was said that there would be an enormous investment in this same problem, the violence. Almost $3 billion. Practically nothing has arrived. And so we don’t want to be deceived again.

SG: So you’re skeptical based on history?

JH: Yes.

SG: Honduras is a small country. It must be very painful for you to be the president of what people call the murder capital of the world. Do you see any prospect for not having that be the thing that you’re number one in?

JH: We are working on that. And we are working hard. We have some improvements. But we have a lot more to do. It is not enough. That is the reason we need help. Help from the people who demand this consumption of drugs.

Susan Glasser is editor of Politico Magazine.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Here’s What Rick Perry Looked Like While Touring the Border on a ‘Badass’ Boat

Sad, disappointing, and highly offensive.

Here’s What Rick Perry Looked Like While Touring the Border on a ‘Badass’ Boat

Texas Gov. Rick Perry spent Thursday afternoon with federal law enforcement officials along the Rio Grande, after President Barack Obama declined  to visit the border during his trip to the state amid the surging immigration crisis.
Perry traveled the river by Anzalduas Park, an area known for its high traffic of illegal immigrants coming into the United States, with a five-boat tour, law enforcement officials told TheBlaze. 
Texas Gov. Rick Perry with Texas Department of Public Safety law enforcement officials on the Rio Grande River in Mission, Texas. He visited Anzalduas County Park, which is a 96 acre park known for its high illegal immigration traffic.  Photo provided by Gov. Perry's office.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry with Texas Department of Public Safety law enforcement officials on the Rio Grande in Mission, Texas, July 10, 2014. He visited Anzalduas Park, a 96-acre park known for its high illegal immigration traffic. (Photo courtesy of Perry’s office)

“The Texas boats looked badass,” one law enforcement officer told TheBlaze.
The boats had mounted machine guns and were accompanied by a helicopter to assist in the border tour, the officer said.
Perry on Wednesday described his meeting with Obama as “constructive,”  but said he’s concerned the president will not move forward with Perry’s suggestions to bring the National Guard to secure the border.
“You know, I was like, Mr. President, you can deal with this. You can unilaterally direct the Department of Defense to put those troops on the border,” Perry told Sean Hannity on Fox News. “The president needs to understand that the single most important thing that he can do is put the National Guard on the border to coordinate with local law enforcement, with state law enforcement, with the Border Patrol.”
Obama said he would be open to the National Guard suggestion, but that it was only a temporary fix.
Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Please distribute widely.

The University of Texas at Austin, Center for Mexican American Studies

Tenure-Track Professor/Associate Professor in Social Sciences

Location: University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies invites applications for a tenured position at the rank of Associate or Full Professor to begin Fall 2015. We seek a Social Scientist with a heavy focus on the U.S. Latino/a populations and whose research agenda offers critical and comparative approaches to Central American, Caribbean, and South American Diasporas in the U.S. The successful candidate will provide intellectual leadership and vision within the proposed department, bridging the core concentrations in Language and Cognition, Policy, Cultural, and Borderlands Studies.
The successful candidate will have a strong research agenda with specialization in one, or more of the following areas: mental health, immigration, youth cultures, demography, public health, language in contact, language ideologies, urban planning for interdisciplinary approaches to social justice issues in Latina/o Studies.  The successful candidate will be expected to teach at all levels of our curriculum, to direct dissertations, MA reports, and honors theses, publish actively, and offer service to the Department, College and University.

Applicants must hold a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Geography, Linguistics, Social Psychology, Sociology, Urban Planning, or a related field and must have demonstrated record of excellence in research and teaching.
Application Instructions

To apply, send letter of interest, curriculum vitae, writing sample, and a list of three professional references to Dr. Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández at  Electronic submissions only, please.  Review of applications will begin on October 1, 2014. Applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled, however applications received after this date may not receive full consideration.

The University of Texas is an AA/EEO employer. A background check will be conducted on the successful candidate. Position funding is pending budgetary approval.

Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández
Associate Professor of American Studies
Associate Director, Center for Mexican American Studies
LLILAS and CWGS, Faculty Affiliate
University of Texas at Austin
2505 University Ave Stop B7100
Austin, TX 78712
(512) 232-6313

U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Tests : Education Next

This piece authored by , and deserves a close read. -Angela

U.S. Students from Educated Families Lag in International Tests : Education Next

Name-calling turns nasty in education world - Stephanie Simon -

This is a worthwhile read because it provides a sense of how the lines are getting drawn in education politics.  I agree that name calling is not/should not be acceptable at the same time that I agree with several of the comments within that we are indeed at war with the neoliberal agenda over what the majority of people adhere to in the U.S., namely, the democratic purposes of education—as opposed to corporate control. (Note: Time to read Benito Mussolini's writings on the ostensible virtues of the corporate state.)

What will it be?  Control by the corporations with our hard-earned taxpayer dollars—or to the state to which we all have access as long as public schools remain truly public?


Name-calling turns nasty in education world

Illustration by Matt Wuerker.

“Everyone rushes to their own corners,” Rotherham said. “It’s exasperating.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has noticed. He opened a September
speech to the National Press Club by decrying “all the noise and
manufactured drama” of the education policy world. It was, he said, “an
alternative universe” — one pumped very full of hubris.

Each side, naturally, blames the other for starting the name calling. Few activists seem to see their own rhetoric as a problem.
“I don’t know that the tone is sharp — for me,” said Steve Perry, a
charter school principal in Connecticut who is a prominent voice in the
reform movement. “I can’t necessarily own that.”

Ten seconds further into the interview, Perry was blasting Ravitch
and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten for
promoting “racist” policies. Vanquishing them would be simple, he said,
“like throwing water on a witch.”

Ravitch, for her part, said she doesn’t consider herself a
“flamethrower” but added that she would not apologize for strong words.
“You can call it polarization, but it needs to happen,” Ravitch said.
“Otherwise, they will destroy public education.”

Read more:

Update on Mexican American Studies in Texas by Juan Tejeda 7.19.14

This piece by Juan Tejeda, should be read in tandem with the preceding post by Dr. Lydia French. Note, in particular, the link within to the Mexican-American studies high school curriculum that was developed by folks at the University of Texas Pan American.


Colleagues & Camaradas:

I would like to thank all of you who sent an e-mail, or called in, to the Texas State Board of Education (TXSBOE) within the last couple of days in support of Mexican American and other Ethnic Studies for Texas schools. The TXSBOE pulled a fast one and voted yesterday, 12-1 (Board member Ruben Cortez from the Valley was the only one to vote against this) to "postpone" Proclamation 2016, which called for the development of textbooks and instructional materials for Mexican American, Native, African, and Asian American Studies for high school students and courses in Texas. This is a minor setback. We were never completely relying on the Republican-dominated TXSBOE to integrate Mexican American and other Ethnic Studies into Texas schools, even though it would behoove them and the state to do so. Of course we will hold all of the TXSBOE elected representatives accountable and they will not be able to "postpone" the inevitable: that all of our children deserve a quality education that reflects them positively and accurately in the textbooks and in the curriculum. Chicana/o children, who comprise more than half of all students in Texas schools, have a basic human and civil right to be taught and learn about their own history, literature, language, arts and culture. This will help them succeed in school and in life.

By the way, Mexican American Studies is not just for Mexican Americans, it is for all students. Our students need to learn about all of the different ethnic groups in the U.S., as well as the different nations, cultures, languages, religions, etc., from throughout the world, if they are going to be truly educated and become responsible citizens of the new world economy and global community. Maybe then we will be able to create a more just society and move towards peace amongst individuals, as amongst nations.

Our work continues and their have been many victories in integrating Mexican American/Chicana/o Studies into schools in Texas and across the U.S. A coalition of educators from the Rio Grande Valley at U.T. Pan Am, U.T. Brownsville, South Texas College with Trinidad Gonzales, along with representatives from various high schools, have developed a curriculum for a high school course in Mexican American History (see and currently there are about 20 high schools across Texas that will be implementing a Mexican American History and/or a Humanities course this coming Fall, 2014. Educators and activists Tony Diaz in Houston, and Georgina Cecilia Perez in El Paso are working in the schools and their communities to integrate Mexican American Studies programs and courses.

The Puente Program has implemented Mexican American Studies at various colleges across Texas. Mexican American Studies, for the first time in Texas history, will be implemented into the Dual Credit Program for high school students this Fall, 2014 at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas, and other colleges, and I will be teaching a Humanities 1311/Mexican American Fine Arts Appreciation course at McCollum and KIPP College Preparatory High Schools. Other high schools are already expressing interest for the Spring, 2015 semester. We will also be integrating Mex Am Studies into the Early College Program for high school students in Spring, 2015; and this past March we established a Center for Mexican American Studies at Palo Alto College, the first in the Alamo Colleges district. There are many other individuals and organizations who are working for a more diverse, inclusive, and multicultural education for our students, and many victories across the state and the nation which the Texas State Board of Education cannot "postpone." Pa'lante.

Juan Tejeda
Chair/National Association for Chicana & Chicano Studies Tejas Foco
Committee for Mexican American Studies Pre-K-12

Somos MAS/Mexican American Studies San Antonio, Tejas

For the G.O.P., Fine Line Seen on Migration

Interesting commentary by Rand Paul:

“From a conservative point of view, you can’t have forms of forgiveness without a secure border,” Mr. Paul said. “It doesn’t mean that we can’t bring a lot of those people to our country, that we don’t have room for them,” he added. “I think we frankly do need many of these people for workers. But you can’t have a beacon of hope and you can’t have a forgiveness plan without a secure border.”
Hoping against hope for the sake of the children that legislation gets passed through Congress before its recess in less than two weeks.



Senator John Cornyn of Texas: “We have a political imperative as Republicans to deal with this.” Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — In 1996, when a surge in illegal immigration collided with the overheated politics of a presidential election, Republicans demanded a strict crackdown.
They passed a measure in the House that would have allowed states to bar children who were in the country illegally from public schools. Senator Bob Dole, Republican of Kansas, the party’s nominee for president, called for limiting social services to immigrants in the country illegally. Patrick J. Buchanan, one of Mr. Dole’s rivals, had promised to build an electric fence along the border with Mexico.
When Mr. Dole lost to Bill Clinton that year, he received just 21 percent of the Hispanic vote — a record low for a Republican nominee — and the party has never really recovered, even as the Hispanic vote has come to represent 10 percent of the presidential electorate, doubling from 1996.

Today, as a wave of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America poses a new crisis for Congress and the White House, Republicans are struggling to calibrate a response that is both tough and humane, mindful of the need to reconcile their freighted history with Hispanic voters and the passions of a conservative base that sees any easing of immigration rules as heresy.


Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky: “You can’t have a forgiveness plan without a secure border.” Credit Drew Angerer/European Pressphoto Agency

Some senior Republicans are warning that the party cannot rebuild its reputation with Hispanics if it is drawn into another emotional fight over cracking down on migrants — especially when so many are young children who are escaping extreme poverty and violence. But pleas for compassion and even modest proposals for change are dividing the party, and setting off intense resistance among conservative Republicans who have resisted a broader overhaul of immigration.
Gestures of sympathy, like a trip to the border by Glenn Beck, the conservative radio and television personality who has raised more than $2 million to buy teddy bears, shoes and food for migrant children, were met with scorn and derision. Some anti-immigrant activists responded to news that the government was buying new clothing for the detainees by organizing a campaign to mail them dirty underwear.
“We can’t elect another Republican president in 2016 who gets 27 percent of the Hispanic vote,” said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, referring to the percentage Mitt Romney won in 2012.
Mr. Cornyn voted against the broad immigration overhaul last year but introduced a compromise measure this week with a Texas Democrat from the House, Representative Henry Cuellar, that would speed the deportation of some children while allowing those who request asylum to stay as they await a hearing.
Noting the demographic shifts in his own state — where he observed, “It’s not just people that look like me” — Mr. Cornyn added: “This is a challenge for the country, and we need to solve it. And we have a political imperative as Republicans to deal with this or else we will find ourselves in a permanent minority status.”
The cycle of failing to win over Hispanics can be traced in many respects to 1994, when Gov. Pete Wilson of California, a Republican, faced a difficult re-election fight and backed Proposition 187, which prohibited the state from providing health care, public education or other social services to immigrants in the country illegally, a measure that so angered Hispanics it all but delivered the state to Democrats in presidential elections ever since. In comparison, President Ronald Reagan won 45 percent of Latino voters in California in 1984.
Looking toward the next presidential election, other Republicans who once opposed immigration overhaul are now talking about the need to deal with the current crisis in a compassionate way. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who is considering a run for president and voted against the immigration bill last year, said this week that he considered himself “a moderate conservative who’s for immigration reform” but wants to see border security improved.
“From a conservative point of view, you can’t have forms of forgiveness without a secure border,” Mr. Paul said. “It doesn’t mean that we can’t bring a lot of those people to our country, that we don’t have room for them,” he added. “I think we frankly do need many of these people for workers. But you can’t have a beacon of hope and you can’t have a forgiveness plan without a secure border.”
With so many Republicans still opposed to sweeping policy changes, the compromise they are proposing now is more a move to do no further harm to their image with Hispanics than it is an effort to court votes. And a split within the Democratic Party over how to handle deportations poses a threat similar to the Republican schism. Many liberals are outraged that Republicans are demanding to scale back a 2008 law that granted more leniency to migrant children from Central America in an effort to combat human trafficking. And if enough Democrats refuse to go along with those changes, President Obama’s request for almost $4 billion to address the crisis could fall apart.
A critical question hanging over the Republican Party, and indeed over any hopes of passing legislation through Congress before its recess in two weeks, is whether even incremental immigration changes can advance when many on the right are so opposed.
Mr. Cornyn’s compromise already has drawn the ire of conservative activists who want to see deportations accelerated. Some Republicans in Congress, like his junior colleague from Texas, Senator Ted Cruz, say the compromise does not go far enough. Mr. Cruz has tried to persuade Republicans to nullify a directive handed down from Mr. Obama to halt deportation proceedings against certain unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Other Republicans have said that while Congress needs to revisit that directive, doing so would stymie the chances of getting something meaningful done now. “We need reform,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. But doing so now, she added, “that’s a difficult expectation.”
Republicans have the chance to step in, Ms. Collins added, where the president’s policies have failed. “It’s frustrating to me that the administration has been so slow to respond,” she said, noting how apprehensions along the border first doubled last year. “His answer, which is so often the case, is more money, more money, more money.”
With polls showing that large majorities of Americans disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is handling the border crisis, Republicans say the opportunity is theirs to squander.
Some Republicans noted that the one time in the last six presidential elections when their nominee won the popular vote was 2004, when George W. Bush carried an estimated 40 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee who ran for president in 1996, said that if Republicans are to win back the Senate and the White House, they have to start passing more laws. Immigration overhaul, he said, would be a start.
“In order to have a Republican president, we have to demonstrate that we can govern,” he said, adding that he was pleased to see how conservative members of his party like Mr. Paul and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida have been speaking out on immigration overhaul. “Showing that we can fix the immigration system is an essential part of showing we can govern.”

The Costs of "Postponing" Ethnic Studies in Texas by Lydia French

Here is an update on the status of Ethnic Studies in Texas by Dr. Lydia French.  You can link to her blog here.


The Costs of "Postponing" Ethnic Studies in Texas

In my last post, I included some actions people could take to encourage members of the State Board of Education to vote to approve a Mexican American Studies course and curriculum for the elementary and secondary levels in Texas. In April 2014, the board compromised by passing a proclamation, Proclamation 2016, that would support the development of ethnic studies topics courses in social studies as well as the development of textbooks and materials for African American, Native American, Asian American, and Mexican American studies courses.

This week, the board has pulled a fast one by voting in favor of an amendment proposed by member Thomas Ratliffe to "postpone" development of those materials, a major blow and what many among those who organized in support of enriching education in Tejas saw as sabotage of the original proclamation and vote. As mi colega, Tony "El Librotraficante" Diaz has phrased it, the State Board is "pulling the rug" out from under Texas students. And many are comparing the acts of the board to the ethnocentrism at work in Arizona in its banning of ethnic studies in 2011.

Indeed, for me personally it's hard to divorce this decision from racially-tinged ideological motives at work in the state. But I'm also an impassioned Chicana advocate of Chican@ studies, with ethnically- and racially-tinged ideological motives of my own. Pues, a veces la verdad duele.  So, I started to ask the question: what are the actual costs to Texas and Texans of failing to provide a culturally relevant elementary and secondary education to our students? I found many answers in a 2008 Workforce Report from Texas Comptroller, Susan Combs.

After a careful analysis of, by now well-known, demographic trends in Texas, the report analyzes the impact of the absence of culturally relevant education for young Texans, especially Latin@s and African Americans, who tend to drop out of high school at higher rates. The report finds:

 . . . The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported that Hispanics and blacks accounted for about 54 percent of the population aged 15 to 34 in Texas in 2007, but on 39 percent of the state's higher education students in Fall 2007. One way to increase overall educational attainment in Texas is to raise participation among Hispanic and black students in postsecondary education, in both two-year and four-year institutions.  ("Demographic Change and Education" 13)
Indeed, these findings motivated the Closing the Gaps and Achieving the Dream initiatives in the THECB, but the 2008 workforce report goes on to remind readers that programs in higher education can only go so far when those students needed to close achievement gaps and become skilled members of the Texas workforce aren't even graduating from high school. Although the report predicts that "[i]f the State Data Center's 'high-growth' scenario plays out," which it has continued to do at an even faster pace than predicted, "Hispanics will make up 58.7 percent of the state work force in 2040, more than twice their share in 2000" (14). Thus,
Because this portion of the state's population is growing rapidly, a larger percentage of the Texas workforce -- 30.1 percent -- will have no high school diploma by 2040, compared to 18.8 percent in 2000, if current trends continue. The State Data Center also expects the percentage of high school graduates in Texas to fall slightly, from 29 percent in 2000 to 28.7 percent by 2040. (14)
And here's the kicker, the part the SBOE should really be paying attention to, the part that needs more attention and media coverage by Texans, regardless of ideological motivation:

 And if policy in Texas limits high school educational options, it could exacerbate these trends, causing more students to lose interest and drop out of school. (14, emphasis mine)

 As we know, policy in Texas, with its emphasis on high-stakes testing, reducing funding for schools while enlarging budgets for publishing compaines and test-making factories, and diluting the cultural relevance of the curriculum, has continued to limit high school options. But again, what are the stakes of these policy/political moves? To understand that, we have to recognize that all policy implications have a human face and human desires. Thus, the report continues,
While students drop out for many different reasons, a recent survey for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that nearly half of dropouts surveyed (47 percent) said a major reason for dropping out was that classes were not interesting. (15, emphasis mine)
Educators in Mexican American Studies know this first-hand because we hear time and again in our classes that students never knew of the contributions of our people to American history, to Tejas history, to the arts, to the medical professions, to the rich history of entrepreneurs in this country. Once they see their lives reflected in our classes, they become not just interested but invested. Why would the school board want to delay such an important investment, which is not just a human investment but an economic one? Once again, the 2008 Workforce report clarifies the impact that an impoverished education will have on the future of Texas:
Unless Texas increases the average educational attainment levels of its non-Anglo populations, our future labor force will be less educated than today's. This means that workers will earn less and have fewer skills, and business will find it increasingly difficult to hire and retain qualified applicants. If the Texas economy is to continue to thrive, this downward spiral of decreasing educational levels, a less educated work force and fewer skilled job seekers must be reversed. (15-16)
Those of you who access the report and read it more fully will clearly see that the calls in this report are for the strengthening of workforce and career training programs, which may make it appear as though I'm cherry-picking data. Quite the contrary. Although I am one of those acknowledged in the report as an advocate for academic programs in higher education in order to sustain the civil society that undergirds and parallels the political economy, what the report demonstrates through this data is that it really doesn't matter whether students seek a workforce or academic route in post-secondary education if they're not even receiving an enriching and culturally relevant elementary and secondary education.

The question that the Texas electorate needs to be asking of SBOE members and policymakers at large is: why wouldn't we want to implement--and even fast-track--a culturally-relevant curriculum for Texas students?

As frequently happens in political decisions motivated by ideology and ethnocentrism, cost was identified as the biggest factor in the decision to postpone the approved ethnic studies materials. But we should all be asking ourselves and our legislators, what are the bigger costs, not just to students but to all tax-paying and voting Texans, of continuing to impoverish our students' education?

Opinion: Why Is Bilingual Education Better?

Opinion: Why Is Bilingual Education Better?

  • Bilingual Children.jpg
    Getty Images
The state of Texas is currently under fire for not providing a quality education to students learning English, particularly at the middle and high school levels. LULAC is suing the state for failing to teach academic content and English to the 17 percent of public schools students who are labeled as English learners.
This begs the questions, what is the best approach to teaching English learners who need to acquire grade level content knowledge and English language skills?
States should be in the business of adding to children’s linguistic toolkit and not asking them to leave their best tool at home.
- Mary A. Stewart
California is reconsidering that question. Recently, a bill passed the State Senate that will allow voters to decide if the option of bilingual education should be returned to school districts. In 1997 the citizens of California voted to virtually end bilingual education. Now, nearly 20 years later, no amount of anti-immigrant sentiment can stand up to the vast amount of scientific research, and a little common sense, that shows us that bilingual is, quite simply, better.

However, not all bilingual education programs are equal.

In transitional programs, a student’s first language is viewed as a crutch. The language will be used for some instruction for only a short period of time, until the student can learn academic content in English. The goal is to transition the student to an English-only learning environment as soon as possible. These programs do not seek to fully develop both languages, but do provide some native language support for a limited amount of time.

However, in the dual language model of bilingual education, the goal is full bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism. These programs should last through at least fifth grade and preferably through high school to produce the best outcome. This model is not about translating, nor is it about merely learning another language. It is about learning in another language for some subject matter and learning in one’s first language for other subject matter. Teachers are trained to teach language (i.e. English) and content (i.e. Math) at the same time. So during the 45-minute block for math, students learn both.

Under the larger umbrella of dual language programs, there are two variations: one-way and two-way.
Two-way immersion, or two-way dual language is a program for everyone. Native English-speaking children usually must start by kindergarten and compromise half of the class. Roughly, the other half of the class are children who speak the second language such as Spanish. For part of the day or week, a group of students become the language mentors for the others while learning language and content simultaneously. Then, the reverse. In addition to language, these two groups of students also learn multicultural skills from each other.

Another option for students learning English is a one-way immersion, or one-way dual language, program where students of the same minority language compromise the entire class such as native Spanish-speakers. They are taught in two languages, their first language and English. One potential drawback of this program is that the children miss out on their best language teachers, other students. However, schools can fill this void by doing some activities with classes of students who already speak English fluently.

But what kind of bilingual is better?

Research shows that well-implemented bilingual programs that seek to fully develop both languages are better for the academic success of students learning English. They actually learn more English, have better test scores, and achieve greater academic success in dual language bilingual programs over English-only or transitional programs that view the first language as a problem that needs to be dealt with quickly, by being replaced by English.

Of course, we might think that children will not learn academic skills in English if they are receiving a significant amount of their instruction in another language. However, multiple studies have found that over the long-term of language minority students’ tenure in K-12 education, those in dual language programs outperform those in English-only or transitional bilingual programs. Graduation rates are higher, they perform better on tests in English, and they have greater literacy skills in both languages.

Additionally, studies show that English-speaking children in bilingual classes outperform their monolingual peers on English tests. (And they can pass the same tests in another language!) Learning in two languages does not prompt confusion, delays, or learning difficulties. Research shows it is the contrary.

So from a research perspective, bilingual is better. From the perspective of an educator, I have seen how dual language programs that view language as a resource greatly benefit students learning English. And I have seen far too often the damaging effects of years of schooling that view one’s language as a problem or merely a crutch.

States should be in the business of adding to children’s linguistic toolkit and not asking them to leave their best tool at home.

Mary Amanda Stewart, Ph. D., is an Assistant Professor of bilingual education at Texas Woman's University and a public voices fellow with The OpEd Project at TWU. She was named an Emerging Leader in Education by Phi Delta Kappa International Educator's Association. Connect with her @drmandystewart.