Sen. Bob Dole wants to make English the nation’s “official language.”

This would be an act of symbolism with little concrete result. Nobody is going to stop providing interpreters in court, for example.

But Dole said something far more important in his American Legion speech on Labor Day: “We must stop the practice of multilingual education as a means of instilling ethnic pride or as therapy for low self-esteem or out of elitist guilt over a culture built on the traditions of the West.”

He’s right. Children should move from instruction in the usual subjects in their native language to English as quickly as possible. Too often, bilingual instruction is an excuse not to learn English, or to stretch it out endlessly while the victimship entrepreneurs build their little empires of divisiveness.

No European country permits bilingual instruction for more than a year, yet the typical time in Massachusetts is three years – which means many spend far longer, even though most parents want regular classes as soon as possible.

Gov. William Weld proposed important reforms of bilingual education, among them a three-year limit. It’s a shame they’ve gone nowhere in the Legislature.

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