Thursday, November 3, 2016

Are We Becoming More Tolerant? Watch the Fate of California Prop. 58 in Next Week’s Election | janresseger

Are We Becoming More Tolerant? Watch the Fate of California Prop. 58 in Next Week’s Election | janresseger:

Are We Becoming More Tolerant? Watch the Fate of California Prop. 58 in Next Week’s Election

Image result for yes prop. 58 bilingual education

Anthropological linguistics fascinates me.  How is it that the Uralic languages of northern Siberia are related to Finnish and Hungarian?  And what about these Altaic language cousins—Turkish, Korean and Japanese?  There is also the mystery of the ancient records, preserved in the dry climate of the Taklamakan Desert in western China, of an Indo-European people who brought their Tocharian language all that distance 5,000 years ago. When people emigrate, they bring along their primary language.
Of course people who emigrate also learn the language of the dominant culture of the place they move to.  Knowledge of language is not a zero-sum-game, in which one must give up one language to learn another. Most cultures accept and even value bilingualism. In the United States, however, as part of a belief in American exceptionalism, some people think immigrants ought to give up their native languages immediately as a way to declare they are loyal Americans.
One of those believers in English-only is Ron Unz, the Silicon Valley software developer who bankrolled California Proposition 227, a ballot initiative passed by voters in 1998 to ban bilingual education and prescribe that immigrant children must be immersed in all-English classes from the day they enter school. Last evening the PBS NewsHour (in partnership with Education Week) broadcast a feature story about the new Proposition 58 , that would roll back some of Prop. 227’s stringent restrictions on language instruction in California’s schools.
Corey Mitchell, in Education Week, describes California’s rethinking its English-only mandate: “Nearly 20 years after voting to restrict bilingual education in a state with more than 1 million schoolchildren who don’t speak English as their first language, California voters appear poised to reverse that ban… (V)oters will decide the fate of a statewide ballot question that would bring an end to the restrictions of Proposition 227 and close out California’s official era of English-only instruction.”  Under Proposition 58, school districts themselves would decide how to provide instruction for immigrant children, “and provide any program, including the existing English-only classes, that enough families request.”
Mitchell suggests that attitudes are changing: “Enthusiasm and demand for students who can read, write, and speak in more than one language have spiked in California and elsewhere. California is also the birthplace of the seal of biliteracy, a national movement to recognize and honor high school graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia now offer biliteracy seals… Besides California, only Arizona and Massachusetts have English-only mandates.”
Research documents that students who learn to read in their primary language and then Are We Becoming More Tolerant? Watch the Fate of California Prop. 58 in Next Week’s Election | janresseger:


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