“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Out-of-Touch Federal Judge Caves to Non-Representative Special Interest Group;

Insane, Drooling Texas Legislator Reacts by Vowing to Introduce Legislation to Create a Program that Cannot Possibly Exist in This Physical Reality

So much is wrong with this situation I hardly know where to begin.

A federal judge has turned up the heat on the Legislature to develop a new language program for the estimated 140,000 limited-English middle and high school students in Texas.

U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice rejected the state's request to postpone his order for limited-English students, saying they have waited long enough. The state requested the delay while it appealed the order.

His original order, in July, said the improvements had to be in place by the start of the 2009-10 school year. A preliminary plan is due Jan. 31.
But begin I shall.

The first red flag pops up with the plaintiffs. This case was brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, represented by one David Hinojosa. Already we can see that a large number of English Language Learners will be ignored in this particular debate as both sides try to figure out how to teach their little brown racist fantasies, still wet from the Rio Grande, how to espeak.

I taught ESL for three years in a West Texas town with a population that was fifty-percent Hispanic. Many of the Hispanic kids lived in a satellite community populated largely by Mexican nationals who had come to work in the meat-packing plant. As recently as ten years before I started working there, the town had been a lily-white farming community. The year before I left, the meat-packing plant was raided by federal agents and a number of illegal aliens were arrested. Hispanics-- legal and otherwise-- and plant representatives were frightened out of their wits. They began-- slowly but surely-- to clear out, to be replaced. The first Burmese arrived in my final year. This year, I have heard, there are enough to fill an entire class at every level.

Although the majority of English Language Learners in Texas are still Spanish speakers, demographics can change in the blink of an eye. They have before.

The school at which I currently work, boasts an ESL population that speaks Farsi, Spanish, Burmese, Lao and a smattering of other languages. Because of the growing prevalence of similar populations, it's a bit nuts to create programs based on a dated Speedy Gonzales daydream.

But this is precisely the fantasy that both the plaintiffs and the federal judge appear to have in mind. The Texas Lege is working under a similar delusion, but it isn't news to anyone that Texas Legislators are nuts.
The House's education leader, Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, said he will again offer legislation to provide state funding for dual-language immersion programs to replace traditional bilingual and ESL classes. Under a dual-language program, students learn some subjects in their native languages for half a day and other subjects in English for the rest of the day.
Um, no. In the first place, although the very phrase "dual-language immersion" is absurd on its face (a program can immerse students, or teach them in two languages, but not both), programs that are called that do exist. But these programs are certainly not what Texans have in mind. Programs that are called by that oxymoronic phrase are also called two-way immersion. Classes consist of fifty-percent native English speakers and fifty-percent ... something else. Both groups learn the other language. It might not be a bad idea for white Texan kids to learn Spanish, but this doesn't appear to be the goal of "Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands".

In my experience, schools experience a growing process as they deal with an increasing ESL population. They first try to deal with ESL kids as if they were disabled-- sticking the worst in a "newcomer" class and mainstreaming them as soon as possible. This never works, and school inevitably begin looking for other solutions. Eissler apparently wants to keep all the ESL kids in the newcomer class.

There are better ways. I've seen sheltered programs work, for example. I'm actually surprised that the Texas Lege isn't focusing on sheltered programs, since such programs are promoted by Pearson Education, and the Lege historically seems to want to throw as money as possible at Pearson.

Teaching math and science classes in Spanish is a step backwards that won't work, no matter how much Texans close their eyes and pretend that they've created a "dual-language immersion" program. It will cause kids to fail-- especially the kids who speak Farsi or some other non-Spanish language. It will cause schools to fail, since standardized tests cannot be translated per NCLB and state law.

ESL: I do not think that term means what the politicians think it means.