Bilingual education can teach English better

Contrary to claims made by critics of bilingual education ("Arizona takes page from California lesson book" Sept. 27), rising test scores in California do not demonstrate that dismantling bilingual education is a good idea.

Test scores increased throughout California during the past two years, a phenomenon that typically occurs when new tests are introduced, and there is no evidence linking this increase to dropping bilingual education.

When one considers a larger number of districts and examines the published research, one sees impressive evidence supporting bilingual education. Also, as noted in your article, in Arizona students with limited proficiency in English who were in bilingual education have outscored those in all-English programs on tests of English reading for the past three years.

Finally, controlled studies consistently show that children in properly organized bilingual classes acquire at least as much English as those in all-English classes and usually acquire more.

Stephen Krashen Los Angeles Professor of Education University of Southern California

When considering whether or not to follow in California's footsteps by restricting bilingual education, Arizonans should take a long look at the real impact of California's Proposition 227.

These minority communities do not want to dismantle effective dual-language programs that are working for their children. Ron Unz, the author of Proposition 227, wants Arizonans to pass a law forcing English-immersion programs on reluctant communities based on the unproven premise that bilingual instruction impedes English language learning. The proponents of Arizona's Proposition 203 think they know better than parents how best to educate their own children. If Arizona is truly a state that prides itself on parental choice and local control in public schools, its citizens must reject both the legal provisions and the mean-spirited attitudes embodied in Proposition 203. Jill Kerper Mora San Diego Associate professor of teacher education San Diego State University

The overall tone of your article on bilingual education implies Arizonans are ready to follow the leadership of Mr. Ron Unz, a California entrepreneur who has been the sole financial backer of the initiative.

But the entire effort by Mr. Unz is riddled with inconsistencies and half-truths. For instance, you quote a Tuscon parent and PTA head, Mrs. Maria Mendoza, as saying that election returns showed that Hispanic parents supported Proposition 227. But CNN and the Los Angeles Times reported a nearly 2-to-1 opposition to the proposition among Latino voters.

Another instance of myth-making is when Unz asserts that 227 has given "a huge boost to those who want to copy it in other states." The fact is that all these alleged grass-roots campaigns are orchestrated and financially supported by Unz and a few other individuals.

J. Manuel Urrutia Los Angeles Department of Physics and Astronomy University of California

Fair coverage of India

I am originally from India, but have been residing in the US for many years. I am very impressed by your coverage from India. You are open, nonjudgmental, curious, and make an effort to know the issues in the context of the culture.

Leela Pustake Creekwood, Conn.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Due to the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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