Something big is always happening in California — fires, floods, earthquakes or initiatives. The latest expression of the people’s will, Prop 227, will dismantle California’s elaborate system of bilingual education. May the winds carry the Golden State’s sentiment east.
There is a place for bilingual education, but not for a lot of it. After 22 years of bilingual ed on the march, Californians could see little benefit for their kids. The voters passed Prop 227 with a 62 percent margin in the face of opposition from President Clinton on down.
The problem with bilingual ed is simple: It doesn’t work. The concept calls for teaching children in their native language until they are “ready” to learn English. However, children readily immerse themselves in English if given the opportunity. Delaying their facility in the common language of the United States puts these children at a disadvantage — it just isn’t fair.
Moreover, bilingual ed seems to assume that children from non-English speaking cultures aren’t quite up to the task of learning a language they will use for the rest of their lives, so they need a crutch. Fortunately, the majority of California’s voters have rejected such paternalism. Their children will reap the reward.