Bilingual Learning Does Not Impede Children, English
Regarding the opinion-page article "Urgent: Reform Bilingual Education," Dec. 26: I found it to be inaccurate and damaging to the future of bilingual education. The major flaw in the author's argument is his assumption that learning in one language impedes learning in another.
It is not true that bilingual programs "promote [bilingual students'] native language at the expense of helping them learn English." Research on these programs shows that while children can usually learn in two to three years to understand and speak English for social interaction, it takes five to seven years or longer to learn enough English to perform successfully academically. Thus, bilingual programs foster uninterrupted cognitive development, rather than slow children down in "English only" programs.
The author's conclusion that "the bilingual education lobby ... has deprived or delayed mostly Hispanic children from learning English in American public schools" is unsubstantiated. Bilingual education must continue to be an essential key to the future of this multicultural nation of which we should all be proud to be a part.
Kathryn T. Mizuno
Russia: Join forces with NATO
The article "Why America Rescues Europe - Again," Dec. 18, provides excellent background information.
The article states that 54 percent of Americans believe Russia should be allowed to join NATO, and only 37 percent think it should not. The American people are more forward-looking on this subject than the political elite, and the same holds true in Russia. Polls show that Russian people are less interested in nationalism than the political elite.
The negative attitudes of the two elites are symbiotic. Given free rein, they would reinvent the cold war. We are lucky that the chief executives in both countries - Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin - have been more sensible than their lower elites. They have kept the thread of partnership alive.
Fortunately, a synthesis is possible: a NATO that includes Russia and Eastern Europe. With the American people's friendly approach, the road is open for Western leaders to take.
Ira L. Straus
Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO
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