Bilingual Education: a Root Cause for Failing Students

Aug 18, 2012 by

Donna Garner

by Donna Garner –

California reporter Jill Stewart wrote “Krashen Burn” (link posted at bottom of this page) on May 29, 1998. This was written to expose Stephen Krashen and bilingual education, and Jill Stewart wrote this article the week before California’s voters passed Proposition 227 61% to 39% on June 2, 1998.

Prop. 227 was meant to end the mandatory assignment of California students to Spanish language bilingual education programs just because the student had a Hispanic family name. Prop. 227 required that non-English speaking students were to be placed in special one-year classes where Sheltered English Immersion instruction was to occur, except in cases where the parents had filled out a specific, written request to keep their children in bilingual education classes.

During the four years that followed (1998 to 2002), students taught in English doubled their scores in reading and language on California’s state standardized tests while the bilingual students’ scores did not improve.

Unfortunately, the bilingual education/whole language establishment in California did not sit quietly by, following the intent of Prop. 227, but instead eventually managed to subvert the provisions until children in Sheltered English Immersion classes were once again being taught to read and write in Spanish.

To see the unfortunate drift in California back to Spanish instruction in English classes, please read “The Near End of Bilingual Education” by Dr. Christine H. Rossell, Education Next, Fall 2003:


In Texas, Gail Lowe of the Texas State Board of Education led the way for a public debate on bilingual education to be conducted on Feb. 9, 2006; and sure enough, here came Stephen Krashen to Texas from California to testify. He was supported by Hispanic members on the SBOE and also the bilingual education crowd who nipped in the bud any possibility that Texas voters would get to vote on a Prop. 227 look-alike.



Dr. Rossell tried to help Texas and studied the scores of Texas students on the state-mandated tests (TAKS). Rossell published her report in 2009 ( in which she stated, “Texas students in bilingual education are not required to be tested on the English TAKS for the first three years…Bilingual education is more expensive than other programs and is the least educationally effective…The goal of any type of program teaching English to non-English speaking children should be learning English…”


I still have hope that at some time in the future, Texas Legislators will finally realize that the dropout problem and lack of academic achievement in our Texas public schools relates directly back to our failed bilingual education programs.


This was sent to me by a Texas teacher on 8.16.12:




This report is one of the gloomiest so far. Let me plunge right into the utter darkness of this bottomless abyss.


Today I met a fourth-grade bilingual teacher friend of mine (a.k.a., Maria). We taught together for five years at a local school. I taught first and second grade bilingual. She taught my second grade bilingual students when they got to fourth-grade; therefore, she is very familiar with success in teaching English and Spanish.


I even had Maria’s oldest son in my class. Once at a teachers’ meeting when I was being attacked for teaching so much English, Maria defended me, mentioning specifically how her son had benefitted from my powerful English phonics program.


I asked Maria how school was going. She confirmed earlier reports I had received that the district [a Texas school district] has told them to “quit exiting bilingual students prematurely.” Maria has been told that no one was to exit a bilingual student before seventh-grade. Maria said that they were told the bilingual kids were entering junior high unprepared for the academics because they were not being taught sufficiently in Spanish.


Isn’t it interesting to see how two groups of people interpret the same data differently? I would think the low academic performance is better explained by the failure to teach English early, not “premature exiting from Spanish.”


I asked Maria how her fourth-graders were performing in English. She said they were doing very poorly, especially compared with the students she got from me. She mentioned specifically that they were ONLY to teach 45 minutes of ESL (English as a Second Language) per day in elementary. That is a SURE DESIGN for disaster! I then said, “Well, at least the students you get can read Spanish.” She looked at me a second to see if I was joking and then quipped, “Not really.”


The news gets even worse. My friend told me that the district has adopted a new Spanish academic curriculum that they are supposed to teach. They will be teaching all subjects in Spanish with just 45 minutes per day dedicated to ESL in elementary classes. They cannot really be interested in “superior academic performance in English.


Concerning 45 minutes of English instruction: When I taught 2nd grade, I taught pretty closely to 50% of the time in each language. A mere 45 minutes is not enough time to accomplish any substantial English instruction.


I get emotional about this, Donna, because I went through the enormous task of teaching myself Spanish and going through all the long process of becoming certified to teach bilingual classes. I not only learned the language but the finer aspects of the Hispanic culture became my adopted culture. I spent over a decade of a highly productive period of my life in the service of helping these wonderful children.



I thought bilingual education was a civil rights issue to provide equal opportunity to disadvantaged children. I think it a good idea that has been hijacked by unscrupulous educators who are hell bent on their own social agenda no matter how much it hurts the people they claim to be helping.


The critical questions is “What is the advantage of a boy or girl coming out of one of our bilingual elementary classes (45 minutes per day of English) over a boy or girl immigrating to the USA in seventh grade?” I wouldn’t be surprised but that the boy or girl from Mexico these days might have received more English instruction in Mexican schools than in our American schools.




Please read “Let’s Get It Right This Time: School Funding Issue” dated 12.14.11 in which I uncovered the damaging influence that bilingual education has done to our Texas public school students:




Donna Garner





“Krashen Burn”

by Jill Stewart

New Times Los Angeles

May 29, 1998

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