Sunday, July 09, 2006

Joining Forces To Fight For High Standards

Things in Sacramento are getting yucky. Governor Schwarzenegger appointed an idiot (Bersin) to the state Board of Education, a Board member resigned (presumably) because of the way the Board's being treated, Jackie Goldberg is shooting off her mouth again in an attempt to lower standards--this apparently was enough to convince two previous governors, Republican Pete Wilson and Democrat Gray Davis, to sent an open letter to the folks in Sacramento, urging them to maintain the high standards the state currently has.

Read the following snips from this San Francisco Chronicle article and see who seems to make more sense, the former governors or Jackie Goldberg.

So pitched is the ideological battle that after the state Board of Education rejected in April a Democratic lawmaker's plan to create new instructional materials for English learners, angry legislators zeroed out funding for the board in the budget signed by Schwarzenegger on June 30.

"Sacramento is awash in misinformation about the recent history and intentions of California's school reform strategy. As the governors who led this work, we believe it is time to remind the public of the facts," Republican Wilson and Democrat Davis wrote in their letter.

"Standards provide a measure of excellence regardless of one's skin color, family income or ZIP code. We believe that if we set expectations high, students will respond," the two men wrote. "Not every child will fully meet the challenge, but all will benefit from the effort."

Lowering or weakening academic standards would create "educational apartheid," they wrote.

"When the hell did Pete Wilson or Gray Davis last teach school or last work with English language learners in a classroom? The answer is never," replied Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles and chairwoman of the lower house's education committee.

Like I said, who makes more sense? You can use the search engine at the top of this page to find out more about Jackie Goldberg--unless you're a complete and total nutcase, you won't be impressed by what you read.

Goldberg and another legislator want 9 years of so-called bilingual education for English Learners--even though study after study shows what they want doesn't work. We tried that in California already, and it doesn't work. Why does Goldberg want this? It buys her votes from the bilingual ed lobby. What does work? Structured English Immersion, in which children are put in English-only classes in which the instruction is geared not only to teaching academic content but also English itself.

"The governor has some personal experience in this area. He learned by coming to this country and immersing himself in the language," said Sabrina Lockhart, a Schwarzenegger spokeswoman. "Test scores show English learners do better when they are immersed in the language."

But Goldberg didn't get her way when the Board last met, so what did she do?

The budget sent by the Democrat-controlled Legislature to Schwarzenegger contained no money for the board.

Don't do what we want? We won't fund the Board of Education anymore. I have nothing but disgust for Jackie Goldberg and her ilk.

Bravo for the two previous governors, though, for attempting to keep the work they began moving in the right direction. I hope their influence is enough to persuade the yahoos in Sacramento to do what's right.


EllenK said...

I actually went through the program to become certified in ESL. I think some of the observations are culturally based. Because so much is offered in the way of Spanish media, etc. there is really very little need for the average Spanish speaker to learn English so long as they don't want to move beyond high school. I have had kids right off of the plane from Vietnam and Pakistan who spoke no English and whose languages in no way parallel English who have advanced more in two years than kids who have been in Bilingual classes since kindergarten. In a way our government is enabling Spanish speakers and keeping them from needing English to survive. That in turn is holding entire generations back from success. If you must know English to become a citizen, then why would the USA need to publish any official document or ballot in any other language? Enough of babysitting, it is time to face it that children will learn best when it is in their own best interest. And the same goes for their parents.

Darren said...

I've had newbie Russian/Ukrainian speakers as students, and they did fine.

I had one Vietnamese girl enroll in my trig class; two weeks before she had been at a UN refugee camp in either Thailand or the Philippines. Carried around a pocket dictionary wherever she went, learning English on the fly. She graduated the next year, and currently attends a UC school.

Structured Immersion works best. There's a researcher at Boston University who's looked at hundreds of studies--Christine Rossell--and, well, just read her work. She said most aren't even conducted under scientific conditions, and of those that are, SEI is clearly the winner.

freethinker_LIRN said...

I agree, years and years of relaxed standards have made the average american high school student about as sharp as an axe (handle that is). And i don't see why spanish speakers should be privileged either, if you are in the USA, you should learn English, and teaching in Spanish is undermining that process.