What You Hoped Never To Learn About Your Child’s Education
By Marilyn Snyder
Published in the Redlands Daily Facts, September 19, 2013
Ah, the unintended consequences of altruistic legislation.
In 1868 the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. It was designed to protect the rights of native-born black Americans whose rights were being denied as recently freed slaves.
Who could have foreseen that such a well intentioned and necessary law for that period would lead a century later to “anchor babies,” children whose illegal alien mothers come here to give birth and then claim American citizenship for their children?
Oh, what a quagmire we conceive when first we practice to achieve… altruistic legislation.
In 1982 the United States Supreme Court decided that illegal immigrant children were entitled to a free K-12 education. The thinking was that we needed to get those kids in school before they became legal, so they could emerge as educated citizens. This decision actually preceded another well intentioned piece of legislation — the 1986 amnesty that allowed 3 million illegals to become legal citizens.
What are the unintended consequences on your children’s schools? It’s a quagmire. Because of the 1986 amnesty, illegal immigration rose exponentially until today it is estimated at 11 million illegals. (Alas, I can’t bring myself to call them undocumented immigrants.) Most children of those illegal immigrants — 73 percent in 2008—are anchor babies queuing up to start kindergarten, but lacking the most important skill they need to succeed — English.
In 2010–11, 91 percent of the state’s kindergartners (that is not a typo) were classified as English Learners, children who have to attend special classes to learn English, according to a Public Policy Institute of California study. Well, we certainly want all children in our schools to learn English, don’t we? Yes. And no. All that generous, kind hearted, hospitable altruism has a hefty price tag beyond the cost of hiring special teachers, purchasing instructional materials, and providing classrooms.
Consider the cost your children have paid to be in classes with English Learners who, by their presence, drag every other child down to their level. If you don’t think this has lowered the quality of their education, consider this.
As a former teacher in Placentia, I was in a computer class where five of the 30 students spoke no English. They had to comprehend two new languages — English and computers.
Typically they would be paired up with a bilingual child who could learn the content, translate and peer tutor simultaneously. As these peer tutors translated new content to English Learners, the other twothirds of the class struggled to hear the teacher over the incessant babble.
Perhaps you assumed that the balance consisted of English speakers? Not then, and not now.
In the normal California classroom today, nearly 25 percent of the children are English Learners.
Let’s assume that your child is extremely intelligent and learns quickly. What is she doing while waiting for the translating to end? Nothing.
You see, altruistic legislation is only for the underdog. There’s none left over to protect and provide for your incredibly bright child who deserves the best education we can give her. There are no special classes only for high level English speaking children so that they can learn, comprehend and move to the next stage faster. Instead they are forced to move at the speed of other children’s language comprehension.
For about 40 years, your children and mine have been second-class citizens when it comes to getting a first-class education. Every class they are in has been dumbed down to accommodate the overwhelming number of English Learners because good teachers can’t help teaching to the lowest, slowest level.
Granted, these anchor babies are American citizens, but they come to school having to first learn English and then to learn their subject matter. They aren’t ready to do reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.
Sadly, your child’s curriculum was dumbed down to accommodate English Learners who mostly can’t pass the High School Exit Exam according to PPIC. We are now weighing amnesty for 11 million illegals.
When you’re considering your take on comprehensive immigration reform, ask yourself: Will our generous hearts and altruistic legislation doom our children to live in a second class nation?