Speaking of Chancellor Levy, it seems that he’s basically punted on bilingual education.
In a recent meeting with Latino leaders, Levy, rather than take the bold step to eliminate a failed program, proposed giving parents the final word on assigning pupils into bilingual education, ESL or regular English classes.
Parents have been complaining for a while, rightly so, that kids are routed into bilingual programs without their input – and often left there.
Once enrolled, it’s almost impossible to get out. The students hardly ever learn to speak English, which tends to marginalize them economically – permanently.
No wonder there is a growing parental movement against bilingual ed, a movement of reform that seems to be blowing in from the West.
California voters eliminated bilingual education in 1998 in favor of putting children in English-immersion environ-
ments. There were cries from the fringe about how “devastating” this would be to the students.
Two years later, test scores are up across the board for the former ESL students. Even some of the strongest former proponents of bilingualism stepped forward and admitted they were wrong.
On Election Day, a similar Arizona referendum eliminating bilingual education passed with 63 percent of the vote.
Levy could have taken inspiration from those victories and been inspired to bring some real change to New York.
This demonstrates a disappointing lack of leadership. While it is all well and good to talk about giving parents “options,” it would be preferable if a bold signal came out of the chancellor’s office, rather than vacillation and timidity.
It seems that is too much to hope for. And, thus, thousands of New York schoolchildren will remain that much poorer – and certainly no wiser.