Having a good command of English is one of the keys to success in America – and parents whose children don’t speak the language should understand that, Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday.
“The thing we’ve got to focus on is understanding that children need to learn to read and speak good English,” Bloomberg said at the annual Riverdale Jewish Community Council Breakfast.
“This is an English-speaking country, like it or not.
“You will get the biggest applause for that among communities where children don’t speak English. Parents want their children to learn to speak English. Unfortunately, there is a bureaucracy that does not want to have that happen,” the mayor charged.
The Board of Education’s bilingual programs serve an estimated 160,000 of the 1.1 million children in the public school system.
The programs were developed in 1974 in response to a lawsuit by a Hispanic civil-rights group.
The board agreed at the time that students who speak limited English should be taught partly in their native tongue – and it has been done since then.
But many experts believe it takes kids in bilingual programs much longer to become fluent in English.
A mayoral aide said Bloomberg believes that current programs are simply not working.
Bloomberg also reiterated his wish for mayoral control over the schools.
“I think if you give the mayor control of the school system and if the mayor is smart and well-meaning . . . then you can go and address the issues that matter, and everything else is secondary,” he said.
“Schools are number one – after you have safe streets.”
Meanwhile, the mayor said he was pleased with the way the city handled preparations for the World Economic Forum.
“In two months, they moved it here, and they will tell you it’s the most successful and best they’ve ever held,” Bloomberg said.
“Hopefully, the world will be a little bit better because of what New York and its 8 million people have been able to do.”