It is virtually impossible to succeed in the United States without the ability to speak, read and write English, our dominant language. We all realize that is true for American-born children. It is also the key to success for immigrant children. That’s why it is so important to emphasize in early schooling the ability to read and use proper grammar.
That is why a majority of Californians voted yesterday for Proposition 227, to provide for mainstreaming children in English, discarding a system of bilingual education that has failed to produce good results.
More than 50 languages are spoken by children in California. The schools have offered instruction in 20 of them. Eighty percent of those not speaking English speak Spanish. Bilingual education has handicapped many. Children learn English quickly if they are immersed in it. The California plan does provide special tutoring for any who have trouble.
In “the old days” of mass immigration from “the Old World,” waves of newcomers sought eagerly to learn our language, realizing that was necessary for them to seize the opportunities of American freedom. It’s still true that English is needed by all Americans.
Furthermore, it is important for our nation to have one common language simply as a matter of unity, lest we allow ourselves to be divided into varied competing blocs that would divide our society.
In adopting emphasis on teaching English, California voters made the wise choice.
Lee Anderson, Editor & Publisher, Chattanooga Free Press