Fort Worth schools Superintendent Thomas Tocco has never feared to tread on sacred ground. He’s proved it again with his bold proposal to change how the district approaches bilingual education.
Tocco’s plan, which will be presented to the trustees next month, calls for omitting most fourth- and fifth-grade bilingual classes, except for new students, and making sure that students who start bilingual education in kindergarten or first grade are in all-English classes by the fourth grade.
It has drawn criticism primarily from bilingual education teachers, some of whom are putting more emphasis on preserving the program than on what’s best for the children.
The standards for benchmark tests in reading are only going to become more stringent, putting non-English speaking children at a double disadvantage. The faster that educators can get students speaking, thinking and reading in English, the better their chances for success.
The issue of bilingual education is not unique to Texas. English immersion has become a volatile topic in California schools. Although Tocco’s proposal is not as dramatic as the system being used in Orange County, Calif., it will no doubt draw similar criticism.
Tocco is on the right track, as will be the students who will benefit from this attempt to remove impediments to their learning.