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What You Hoped Never To Learn About Your Child’s Education

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.


Not learning.

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?