ELECTION 2016--There are a few obvious truths in our 21st Century, "small world after all" nation and globe. One is that speaking only one language is a surefire way to limit your financial future. Another is that being illiterate in any language, particularly English (our current global scientific/financial "lingua franca"), is a surefire way to limit your financial future. Which is why Latino children are again being attacked.
Latino children, like any children, deserve to have as bright a future as any of us. Hence, when Proposition 227 passed in 1998, it should be remembered that much of the start of this effort to End Bilingual Education came from Latino families in Santa Ana--some who predominantly spoke Spanish--who wanted their children to achieve the American Dream and who valued their children's education.
Much of the "bilingual education" had to do with either political correctness or just a nice, fat, financial bonus ($5000/year, approximately) for teachers certified as bilingual. English-speaking children with Latino last names were being yanked out of normal classes and slammed into "bilingual" classes that scored horribly on standardized tests in either English OR Spanish.
It was terrible, and the Latino parents in Santa Ana (who clearly love their children) wanted a choice. Proposition 227 passed, and English immersion was required. Bilingual education was limited only to those parents who specifically made the choice to enter those classes (and who usually had children scoring high in either language, and in schools who focused on the well-being of the students, and not teachers' salaries).
And students test scores throughout the state, including Latino student scores, then went up significantly.
So Proposition 58, in an attempt to repeal Proposition 227, is rightfully viewed as a dangerous threat to Latino students, and which is being promoted by the same politically-correct (and financially-focused, to be sure!) lobbies that really don't give a hoot, and won't be there to help, the children that they hurt.
For those of us not aware of Latino culture and its very close ties to the Spanish language, it should be pointed out that there is an emotional, and often painfully-important tie of Spanish to many Latinos (particularly those who are ambivalent of which identity should be first and foremost in their hearts and minds ... American, Latino, or both?). Asking Asians and Europeans to switch to English is not nearly so hard as it is to many Latinos.
Yet Latinos who never learn English, or at least become bilingual, have a horrid future in that they lose access to higher-paying jobs in a nation where blacks, Asians, and most Latinos do speak English in their everyday and financial transactions.
And Latinos who grabbed the American Dream (let's keep the illegal/legal immigration out of the picture for the time being ... but both have benefited) either by supporting Proposition 227 or throwing out the corrupt rascals that led the City of Bell into the financial toilet have almost universally enjoyed financial and political benefit.
Would anyone reasonable recommend that Latinos forsake the Spanish language? Certainly not--in our international society, mastery of multiple languages is as beneficial as being computer-literate, or fiscally-literate. Whether it is Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, or any other major language of the world, it is vital to hold onto any form of multilingual capability available.
But the bilingual education lobbies are dangerous--they seek to balkanize, they seek to profiteer, and they seek to control any group of individuals possible while claiming they "speak for them". Hence the Useful Idiots at the LA Times who are promoting Proposition 58 are as dangerous as they've always been.
And, of course, the LA Times and other typical knee-jerk liberal newspapers have almost never been on the side of Latinos, African-Americans, and other under-represented minorities...although it's to be presumed the "wizards of smart" at the Times probably think that they've got the backs of the Latino children they're sending to Poverty Purgatory by ignoring the dreadful history of bilingual education.
We've too much to gain by being able to communicate with each other, and too much to lose by not communicating with each other, to let the Politically-Correct-But-Factually-Incorrect-And-Financially-Compromised creepies try to balkanize California yet again.
Let's keep our students' test scores high, and let's demand our children be exposed (and, if possible, master more than one language) to English so that ALL students, including and especially Latino students, can enjoy the bright future that only the United States of America has to offer.
Vote NO on Prop 58. Vote yes on a brighter future for all of our children.
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)