For the liberal education establishment, D-day will arrive in the year 2008. That’s nearly two full George W. Bush presidential terms away. But, it’s not too early to start panicking now.
Beginning in that year, Washington’s high school pupils will be required to pass proficiency tests before they can be graduated. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning test is to be administered to all students in grades four through seven and also to high school sophomores. To graduate, pupils must pass all sections of the test. And the left is already digging its redoubts, loading its cannon and preparing to reinforce its failures.
The establishment has noted an alarming disparity in test scores between English-speaking and Spanish- speaking students. Well, duh! They seem to have just noticed that those who are fluent in English outperform those who aren’t.
Each year, the Hispanic demographic scores the lowest on standardized public school tests. But that is not a fair assessment because there are two distinct populations within the Hispanic demographic and those two groups have little in common other than brown skin and Spanish surnames. Those whose families have been in the U.S. for generations, and are fluent in English and fully assimilated culturally, do as well as anyone else on these tests. This would seem to make perfect sense.
But recent immigrants are an entirely different matter. Pupils from that group do very poorly in school and drop out at a horrific rate. The liberal solution has been to inflict the ironically misnamed bilingual education on them. The stated goal of bilingual education is to instruct immigrants in their native language, in such subjects as math and science, while simultaneously instructing them in English as a second language. The stated purpose of this program was to prevent the students from falling too far behind in these other subjects before they learned English.
The results have been quite the opposite. Students who are immersed in English quickly catch up with their peers while bilingually educated pupils fall further behind. And bilingual education also has the undeniable consequence of retarding English proficiency.
But, according to liberal Democratic state Rep. Phyllis Kinney, the solution is to bolster bilingual education. And she, along with the education establishment, is demanding that Hispanic students be given their proficiency tests in Spanish.
So let’s see if I understand this. Hispanics who are fluent in English score as well on tests as anyone. And Hispanics who struggle with English do poorly. So, according to liberals, the solution is to postpone English fluency for immigrants.
Don’t you wish that politicians were required to pass proficiency tests before taking office?
Says Kinney, “Everyone should have equal rights to quality education.” Actually, everybody already does have that right. What too many don’t have is linguistic access to education and nitwits like Kinney actively deny immigrants that access by postponing the day that they master the language of the realm.
Liberals actually do understand this. They are attempting to make Texas public schools’ low rank in standardized testing an issue in the 2000 presidential campaign. In truth, all southwestern states’ test scores are low because of the large numbers of recent immigrants from Mexico, both legal and illegal. And most of these children lack fluency in English. Children who do not speak, write or understand English do not prosper in this alien environment. When such children are included in statewide averages, they drive scores downward. In fact, the Clinton administration itself has attempted to exclude such immigrant children’s scores from nationwide testing results so that they can claim to have raised the national average during its tenure.
I would like to offer a solution. Since liberals tend to be more concerned with pulling the successful down than with raising the fortunes of the unsuccessful, perhaps we can satisfy the liberals by having all children take their tests in another language — perhaps Sumerian or Egyptian hieroglyphics would serve.
Ironically, Gary Locke, Washington’s politically correct governor, has established the Washington Commission on Hispanic Affairs to give Washington’s Hispanics a “voice” in Olympia. Onofre Contreras was recently appointed as its new executive secretary and he says that educational issues will be a priority with him. But somehow, I think that if liberals would assist, rather than impede, Hispanics’ achievement of a mastery of English, they wouldn’t need a commission to serve as their voice. They could speak for themselves.