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Falsehoods and Facts about "English for the Children"


America's multi-billion-dollar bilingual education industry has grown desperate. Now that our disastrous thirty-year old experiment with Spanish-only so-called "bilingual education" is being exposed by the media, public support is evaporating and our "English for the Children" initiative threatens to put bilingual education out of business once and for all. With jobs and government funding at stake, the profiteers are running scared.

Their last-ditch response has been to try to change the subject
.

All their campaign materials advise their supporters to AVOID THE SUBJECT OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION AT ALL COSTS. Instead, they are attempting to spread ridiculous falsehoods and distortions about our initiative against bilingual education, hoping to raise doubts in the minds of voters. Fortunately, their falsehoods can't stand up to the facts.

  • Falsehood

    : Limited-English children of all ages will be forced into one class. 13-year-olds will be mixed together with 5-year-olds.

    Fact

    : This is ridiculous. The initiative does say that schools will be permitted to mix together children of different grades (such as 7th and 8th) but this is no different than current law. Schools are already permitted to mix together different ages if necessary.


  • Falsehood

    : Teachers can be sued for speaking another language.

    Fact

    : This is a complete lie. Teachers may certainly speak other languages, though in English-language classes, the "overwhelming" language of instruction is English. Using a little of the child's native language is certainly permitted in any classroom---initiative Co-Chair Gloria Matta Tuchman uses some Spanish in her own immersion classes, as does Honorary Chairman Jaime Escalante. Article 5 of the initiative does allow parents to sue elected officials or educators who "willfully and repeatedly" violate the law by refusing to allow children to be taught English. But teachers who violate the law can already be held liable under existing legal statutes.


  • Falsehood

    : Our proposed system of "sheltered English immersion" is risky and untested.

    Fact

    : Language research has shown that sheltered immersion is the most effective means to teach children another language. Co-Chair Gloria Matta Tuchman has been using sheltered English immersion for 15 years in her first-grade class with tremendous success, and her entire school has followed her approach. Every other nation uses some form of immersion to teach language to immigrant children; bilingual education is used nowhere else in the world. Immersion is tried-and-tested; bilingual education is an experiment which has failed.

  • Falsehood

    : The initiative is a one-size-fits-all approach which violates local control of education.

    Fact

    : There is no local control under the current system. With a few small exceptions, bilingual education is mandatory for all school districts in California. Our initiative provides a general framework for language-education in the state, requiring all schools to normally teach children English as soon as they enter, but within this general requirement, each school district can implement the proposal under its own local approach.


  • Falsehood

    : School districts will have only 60 days to implement the initiative, which isn't enough time.

    Fact

    : Our initiative will be voted on June 2, 1998 and will take effect at the beginning of the next school year in September. However, school districts have been well aware since early 1997 of our initiative and the strong likelihood of its passage. Responsible districts are already drafting contingency plans to implement "English for the Children" if it does pass. Irresponsible school districts, which stick their heads in the sand, may have to rush to implement our initiative after the June election.


  • Falsehood

    : During the one-year English-immersion program, children won't be taught other subjects

    Fact

    : Absolutely false. English-immersion programs are designed to teach regular academic subjects, but with an emphasis will be on teaching English as quickly as possible.


  • Falsehood

    : We freeze the state into a policy which can't easily be changed later.

    Fact

    : Like nearly every other initiative, our measure can only be changed by a 2/3rds vote of the state Legislature or another initiative. However, our current failed system of bilingual education has been set in stone for over twenty years and has been impossible to change except through our initiative.


  • Falsehood

    : Normal children under 10 won't be able to get extra help with English.

    Fact

    : Absolutely false. Besides providing sheltered English immersion programs to all children having trouble with English, our initiative also allows parents to apply for a waiver in their children require additional types of assistance with English.