The public realizes that limited-English students are not succeeding academically in the numbers they should.
Neither are many inner city Blacks and poor Whites, for that matter.
There is an entire lower socioeconomic strand that has historically received a less than adequate education. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the school funding issue Arizona dealt with earlier this year.
It is good that members of the public, particularly parents, are concerned. Unfortunately, in their haste to find a solution they are attacking bilingual education, the very program that offers the most hope for limited-English-speaking students.
The real question is how do these children learn best? How can we help them learn better? An Arizona Department of Education report shows that of all those programs that serve limited-English-speaking children in Arizona, bilingual education has a much better record of success.
Some bilingual programs work better than others. We can find out which those are and duplicate them for the benefit of all while establishing district standards for bilingual educational excellence in Arizona.
As parents, we should get involved in our children’s education. We must ask teachers and administrators to explain why they back the programs they choose. But because our school may not be teaching children English at the rate we think it should, we can’t assume that the school across the city is doing a better job with a different method until we investigate that program, too. We may find that compared with other programs, our school is doing pretty well. If so, let’s not replace it with an inferior method. Working together we can improve it instead.