June 05, 2005
My latest column in The Stranger is up
With all the concerns about outsourcing, I was curious to learn we're now outsourcing education to Mexico, which ranks last among major nations in educational achievement. In a recent teleconference with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Governor Christine Gregoire announced a high school curriculum from the Mexican government that "will allow 55,000 Latino students in Washington to take school classes online in Spanish."
There's not much substance yet. The program's objective is to offer limited-English speakers an alternative for earning graduation credits. Sounds nice, but it's a cop-out: Already, tens of thousands of Spanish-speaking students languish indeﬁnitely in "transitional bilingual education" and never become functionally literate in English.
Read the whole thing
. The governor's press release announcing this program is here
. And see the OSPI's data
for yourself on the failure of the state's "transitional bilingual education" system to actually help English learners transition into English proficiency.
For the story, I contacted the OSPI (didn't get much help), the Governor's Office and the Yakima School District. Marsha Richards pointed me towards certain resources. I also spoke with my wife's cousin and older sister who immigrated from Korea in early elementary school without knowing any English. They shared their experiences in being English-only environments without bilingual instruction. Both did very well in school in spite of the burden of having to learn a new language from scratch. The cousin became a corporate lawyer and my sister-in-law earned a PhD in language acquisition and now teaches ESL and trains ESL teachers. I also spoke with my cousin who worked as a bilingual English/Spanish teacher for several years in schools serving migrant farmworkers' children in Long Beach and Salinas, California. The former bilingual student that I quoted in the column was one of my cousin's students. I believe that more children should transition into English-only instruction at a younger age, and that this Mexican online curriculum is a poor solution. But my cousin and his student also made some very good points about the benefits of some bilingual instruction in certain situations and their input helped me write a more balanced and complete story.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at June 05, 2005
04:12 PM | Email This
I don't mind using technology to solve inadequacies as that is a healthy course of events. Let's hope that the instruction that the kids receive on the internet will help them transition into productive life in the USA. Subjects like reading (English), writing (English), science and arithmetic should have more weight than pinata making, Mexico history, and world trade (aka how to put the US down).
Who knows. If it improves WASL scores for migrant workers' children then it might be a good pilot program for improving 99.9% of the other children not served by wasteful, progressive Washington education programs. Christine can pay WA teachers to log into computer providers in states that do the work that they should be capable of doing!
2. Good article Stefan.
3. Elvis - You're way too optimistic. This will just become a propaganda mechanism by which they keep telling these kids that they have unlimited rights and no responsibilities. No tool is safe in the hands of the public education industry.
4. The bright side - Could the Mexican education be any worse than what we are being provided by our state?
I know several Mexicans who are working here for the summer on Microsoft internships. They all are virtually fluent in English, having studied it from grade school on. They all tell me they have taken classes in Mexico that were taught entirely in English. These guys are very smart and well-educated. They know if they want to get ahead in life they need to be fluent in English. They know the best way to do that is to be educated in English. Hell, EVERYONE KNOW THIS!!!
The best way to transition is immersion. Why they would want to do anything else has got to have a lot more to do with money and politics than education. And from the Fraudoire Administration. What a surprise.
follow the money.
If you have a student that is "home schooled" and they participate in the district's special program for at least 10 hours per week, federal funds on that students behalf are sent to the district.
7. Can we outsource her to Mexico! She would fit right in with the corruption!
Now, now, now, people. You know that results don't mean anything. Not even the possibility for positive impact. IT'S ONLY HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Since I'm sure that CG's intentions are pure (by default, since she's a lib), this program, therefore, is good.
Get with the program, Stefan.
9. One could only wish that signing up for these courses would flag households to the INS for investigation if they are illegals. But instead WA State will spend more taxpayer dollars educating wetback....poorly.
WEA better be careful - if we can outsource Spanish education to Mexico over the internet, we can outsource just about everything else to India over the internet, and get better results for 1/10 the cost.
Hmmm. Maybe I like this idea.
I'm about 1/4 to 1/2 fluent in Spanish. I know if I wanted to become fully fluent, the best way would be immersion. It's yet another indictment of our crappy, expensive public school system that young Latino kids who are immersed in English, still can't learn it.
This is definitely a publicity stunt for Latino votes. Gregoire probably realized that during the heat of the election contest would be a bad time to tell the illegal Latinos that they would be free to vote here, so she came up with something else to play up to their votes.
This is humorous, because she doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell at a second term, even if Bridges allows this sham of an election to stand.
12. That whole program is an insult to taxpayers and to common sense.
CG had better hustle on this project, she has 14 hours to go. I would highly suggest a resume update instead.
If time allows, I would also suggest a plan for sending all of the illegal criminals back to Mexico so Mr. Fox can foot the bill.
14. GS, don't worry---if Dino prevails tomorrow this will be just another nail in the Gregoire coffin in a revote! She just keeps stepping in it!
For someone so narrowly elected, with the prospect of a re-vote hanging over her administration, she sure didn't use her time very wisely this session.
She could have helped her case by vetoing the tax increases...saying that she won't overturn the will of the citizens as experssed in the initiatives that now seem almost worthless. She should have definately stayed away from this ridiculous "education" program.
If a re-vote was ordered, she could run on a much more reasonable record and tried to elicit some sympathy from the voters. She basically did the opposite and ran to the left. If she won in court, she could show her "true colors" after this it was over. I don't know who is advising her but it's been terrible advice. She is extremely lucky the legislature didn't pass the "civil rights/special rights" for homosexuals bill. She would have signed it and talk about another nail in the coffin.
Just my $0.02
This fries me. I wrote to the Gov, & my elected's in opposition to it. I received a yadda-yadda canned response (or silence) that this "makes sense" to have "educated adults" and it "didn't cost WA taxpayers anything" since MEXICO authored it.
What an insult is right! Catering to illegal aliens? Many of those "lesson patrons" are trespassing here illegally, but everyone seems to gloss over that point. What about our OWN citizens? What about our OWN (home-grown) curricula? Why the hell do we need a FOREIGN country to give us a lesson plan? Oh--and they politely said "no, this is not a challenge to our country's sovereignty." Oh yea?
How long would I last in Mexico insisting that THEY conform to MY needs as an illegal Yankee entrant with free schooling, free medicine and public aid? Wake up, America. You are giving away the store.
17. Private (local Catholic) schools main-line most non-English speaking students to full English within 12 to 18 months. Their secret is that the teachers are not paid anything extra for having non-english speakers in the classrooms -- its just more work for them so they really (really) get the student speaking english as fast as possible -- (also when the parents are both working extra jobs to pay for tuition -- they really cooperate with the school...)
Dogbert, I like your idea about outsourcing the rest of our education to India. Maybe our kids might graduate from high-school knowing how to fill out a job application.
Stefan, you used the "G"-word when you referred to CG.
"The governor's press release announcing this program is here."
You haven't given up on this election contest yet, have you?
19. I sent the gov. pretend an email when I first heard this 2 weeks ago. I rec'd an answer in the mail from Bergerson's office (NOT the governor's office) which ignored my questions but said this was great for the non-English speaking students. Sorry, that's bull. I will be contacting them again with my rebuttal.
If there's no incentive to speak English, why would anyone bother? I object to my tax dollars being spent to turn us into Mexico North.