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Bilingual ban doesnt make much sense

by: Tribune file photo, Atkinson Elementary School teacher Ruth Tucker works with students, many of whom are non-English speaking, during science class. Bill Sizemore’s ballot initiative seeks to end bilingual education in Oregon and put students into English immersion classes.

ESL children are in regular classrooms most of the day. For short periods they are pulled out and placed in small groups where they can get some individualized instruction, sometimes in their native languages.

At one grade school I know of, there are no Spanish-speaking ESL teachers - the children are just catching up in English, but in small groups.

At another grade school, there were 22 different countries of origin identified, including Afghanistan, South Korea, Brazil, Egypt, El Salvador, Cambodia and many more. There is no way those children could be taught in anything but English.

If some schools are fortunate enough to have a teacher who speaks Spanish, why not make use of it so the children can get a firm foundation in their education (Initiative seeks to ban bilingual classes, Sept. 18)?

Children who are Spanish speakers must meet benchmarks in English in order for the school they attend to make adequate yearly progress. If they do not meet the benchmark, the entire school is punished as a result, thanks to the federal government's requirements. If bilingual education helps children meet benchmarks, why limit it to two years?

My son attended a school that was bilingual - it was English-Japanese and was a great experience for all of the kids.

If your own child was low in reading or needed an individual education plan, would you limit the extra help to two years? Of course not.

It is frustrating that education dollars are tight. The blame for that needs to be placed at how we fund schools. That concept was brought to you by Bill Sizemore. When I see his name on this ballot measure, it does not give me much confidence.

Carmen Lohkamp

Gresham

Teachers, not kids, benefit from ESL

I think this is a great initiative. Teaching English to kids, regardless of where you stand on the immigration issue, can only help them (Initiative seeks to ban bilingual classes, Sept. 18).

Chances are the kids are citizens anyway, so why not give them a chance to do better? Teachers unions are historically for ESL for two reasons:

• They tend to get a little higher pay for teaching ESL.

• They don't have to work as hard.

When I lived in California, ESL students got an extra hour of playground time. The idea was that they would mix with English-speaking children, but it didn't work because those who spoke Spanish naturally hung out with kids who spoke Spanish. It did mean an hour less instruction for the kids each day and an hour less work for the ESL teacher.

Don't let the NEA fool you. Voting yes will help our children.

Alan Cohen

Gresham

The more languages kids know, the better

Bilingual education is not just for 'immigrants,' but for everybody who wants to learn.

It's not a setback to learn another language while learning another subject; it is a wonderful way to learn another language and culture (Initiative seeks to ban bilingual classes, Sept. 18).

I grew up speaking two languages - my mother is from the U.S. and my father is from Mexico - and now I speak four languages. Kids are like sponges, and the earlier they learn another language the easier it becomes.

Most people are afraid because they just do not know or never truly experienced it firsthand.

Travis Murillo

Northwest Portland

Bilingual initiative's time is long overdue

Yes! It's about time we finally get a voice in this. This has been a successful way to teach in other states (Initiative seeks to ban bilingual classes, Sept. 18).

The main opposition will come from teachers unions and the Hispanic community leaders. We are all Americans, not Mexican nationals.

It will benefit all of the students when they can read and write in English and when it comes to higher education, it becomes mandatory.

John Profitt

Otis