WHY NOT OUST BILINGUAL ED. AND USE LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE’S APPROACH?

Nov 6, 2011 by

The article posted below describes the highly successful English immersion project at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Why can’t we use this same approach in our Texas public schools to teach students English proficiency?

 

In 2009, Dr. Christina Rossell completed a research study on Texas’ public school children using the TAKS tests. She stated:

 

“Bilingual education is more expensive than other programs and is the least educationally effective. (Bilingual education is more expensive than mainstreaming or sheltered English immersion, and is less effective.)”

Please read Dr. Rossell’s research posted further on down the page.

 

When are we in Texas going to look honestly at the root cause – bilingual education — that is holding our students back? — Donna Garner]

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11.6.11 – San Antonio, home of Lackland Air Force Base — http://www.kens5.com/

 

Lackland program on a mission to teach English to the world

 

by Freddy Hunt / Kens5.comNovember 6, 2011

 

Military uniforms from all corners of the world flooded the halls. The building resonated with a blend of the world’s languages as the students head for their next class.

It’s not something you would expect to find at a U.S. military base.

But at the Defense Language Institute English Learning Center, there are no barriers. Inside the classrooms, all 1,500-some students speak English and nothing else.

The goal of the program is mostly to prepare foreign partners for further military training i

n the United States. Although the English Learning Center is 57 years old, it is not widely known — at least not as well as the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif.

“Their mission is very different than ours,” explained Col. Howard Jones, commandant of the Defense Language Institute English Language Center. “They teach the world’s languages to Americans. Ours is teaching the American language to the world, so it’s an inverse of what our colleagues on the West Coast do.”

 

It’s hard to help somebody train if they don’t speak the same language. About 15 percent of all foreign troops who come to the United States for training first pass through the English Learning Center at Lackland Air Force Base, including Maffei Martins Ramos.

 

Building a linguistic arsenal

Ramos flies a Sea King helicopter for the Brazilian Navy. When he arrived at Lackland in June he started keeping a small list of words. He recently jotted down “naive.” It’s a word he said he never heard in Brazil.

Although he already knew some English when he arrived in San Antonio in June, he didn’t know enough. English is important, Ramos said, especially for pilots who fly American-built helicopters.

 

“You must know the language, otherwise you will fail,” he said. “You must learn the procedures. You must learn all the manuals, all the things about the chopper that you fly. So if you don’t know English, you will not be successful.”

 

While “naive” probably won’t help Ramos repair any helicopters or communicate any more effectively with ground control, it may help him pass his specialized aviation course — something he must do before he begins training with American troops in Pensacola.

“Why?” Ramos asked. “Because in my formal training I will fly with another American. With air traffic controllers, I will have to talk during the flight, so I must understand and be understandable. That’s why I’m here.”

 

From all corners of the world

Lackland is the temporary home to students from more than 100 different countries. Taking a look at what countries the students come from and how that changes over time, Jones said, is a kaleidoscope that provides a fascinating window into U.S. relations and the world situation as it evolves overtime.

 

“For example, if we were having this conversation in the 1970s, most of our students here would be from Iran. And we don’t have any now. And now we have many, many students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but a few years ago that wasn’t the case.”

 

The range of students’ military experience is as diverse as the students themselves.

 

Like Ramos, most of the students already have military experience and need to learn English to further their training at any one of more than 200 programs in the United States, where they’ll learn to fix jet engines, drive tanks and shoot missiles.

 

However, a small slice of the students are fresh out of officer training, including several from the Royal Saudi Air Force.

“That’s a fairly unique slice of the student body,” Jones said. “But it points to the kind of diverse range of backgrounds and professional development that our students have.”

 

There are also students who have already been through training at the English Learning Center and who have returned to continue their education in order to spearhead English learning programs in their own countries.

 

Taking it home

On a recent weekday, five students sat with books sprawled across their desks in an advance language proficiency skills classroom. They were dissecting prose from Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’ They agreed the story did not have a happy ending — except for its murderous narrator. But what was this “nitre” gleaming from the cavern walls?

 

The class looked it up. Oh yeah, nitrate — it’s an explosive.

 

Togo Armed Forces Lt. Col. Kokoue Kemence was one of the students in the class. He manages the entire English program in his French-speaking country. Togo lies just to the east of Ghana, an English-speaking country. Knowing English is essential for peace-keeping initiatives, Kemence said, among other diplomatic responsibilities.

 

“English is the world’s language, so we have to learn English if we want to have a good relationship with them,” he said. “In terms of security, cooperation, borderline, English is important.”

 

Kemence said his country learned just how important it is to know English. He said Togo lost a seat in the United Nations Mission in Liberia because the representative they sent did not know English.

To avoid similar problems, Kemence is back at the English Learning Center for a second time – he was in San Antonio for the first 10 years ago. In Togo, he has established a two-year English program for active officers.

 

The problem, Kemence said, is the officers are often times distracted with day-to-day tasks that interrupt the learning process. He hopes to make English a technical requirement in the officer training, rather than an afterthought.

Mission in demand

Every Thursday at 1500 hours, or 3 p.m., about 50 students walk across a stage at Lackland Air Force Base. Last year, a total of about 3,500 students walked across that stage. Jones said that number is just getting bigger.

“Our mission continues to grow,” he said. “So as foreign partners from literally all over the globe choose to interact with Americans … the demand for English language training is going up and up and up.”

The graduates are the cream of the crop, Jones said, the best and the brightest. They were each hand-selected by their countries to travel to the United States to learn English and train with American troops. The graduation ceremony is a proud moment for the students and also for Jones.

At every ceremony, a student, or sometimes students, will voluntarily make a speech about what they have learned at the English Language Center. They do not talk about the new words they have learned.

Instead, they talk about how they now have friends from countries they before didn’t even know existed. They talk about how they didn’t know anything about Americans other than what they saw in movies, and now they know that Americans are mostly friendly, that they work hard and value being on time.

“As a commandant, I can’t write a mission statement, I can’t write an objective or a goal that says as succinctly what the English Language Center is about as what these graduates just did,” Miller said.

Through the experience offered at Lackland, and with the help of the program’s AMIGO sponsor program, the students have learned about American culture in addition to the English language.

“The fact that they’re able to make those comments in English, whether they have an accent or not — usually they do — it’s remarkable,” Miller said. “It’s remarkable.”

 

 

Article posted at: http://libertylinked.com/posts/8594/tex-school-financing/View.aspx

 

10.10.11 — More Texas school funding lawsuits pending (Please see article from Austin American-Statesman posted at the bottom of this article.)

 

“Let’s Get It Right This Time” – by Donna Garner – 10.10.11

 

Before Texas launches into any more school funding lawsuits brought by Texas public schools, I hope this time a logical-thinking judge will require the schools’ attorneys to meet these two requirements before deciding on the outcome of the school finance lawsuit:

 

(1) Prove to the taxpayers of Texas that more dollars definitely will equal increased academic achievement. This proof must come from independent, peer-reviewed research that has been replicated in various school districts throughout the country.

 

(2) Produce documentation to prove that the dollars that have been sent in the past to Texas school districts have resulted in increased academic achievement.

 

MY OPINIONS BASED UPON MY 33+ YEARS AS A CLASSROOM TEACHER

 

Unless Texas school districts can prove that their low academic achievement is caused by lack of dollars, then giving the districts more dollars will not solve the underlying problems. So far as I know, there is no hard evidence in this country to prove that more dollars will equate to increased academic achievement. In fact, there are studies that show just the opposite. Many poor schools have produced some of the most dramatic academic achievement among their students.

 

Because I have taught in 14 different schools during my 33+ years of classroom, I have learned that money is not the answer to increased academic achievement – (1) consistent discipline and (2) quality curriculum are.

 

I have taught in wealthy school districts; I have taught in poor school districts. Some of the wealthy school districts did a great job providing students with a quality education; but some of the poor school districts did, too.

 

Until school administrators and school boards can show that they have spent taxpayers’ dollars wisely in the past, I do not want to give them carte blanche to uproot the entire Texas school funding system.

 

Many of the schools in which I have taught had able administrators who used their funding wisely, particularly in those schools that had limited federal dollars. In the school districts that had extensive federal dollars, I saw some of the most egregious and wasteful spending. In fact, the more they had, the more they spent unwisely.

 

MUST ADDRESS ROOT CAUSES OF LOW ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT

 

What we must do to increase academic achievement in Texas is to address the root causes that are holding our students back. It does no good to treat the symptoms; we must treat the causes of our “disease.”

 

One of those root causes is bilingual education, and it will take real courage on the part of Texans to face the truth.

 

Dr. Christine Rossell’s research done in Texas on Texas students (Sept. 2009) told us what our Texas schools need to do, but policy-makers have not had the courage to implement her recommendations because of the possible Hispanic backlash.

 

I believe that most Hispanic parents badly want their children to gain English proficiency so that they can make a good living for their families. Parents who speak only Spanish know how limited their own economic opportunities are, and most want their children to learn English.

 

It is the high-profile Hispanic politicians and organizations (the ones who manage to speak the loudest and manage to get their views into the news) that do not want Hispanics to gain English proficiency. If Hispanics gain English proficiency, they can successfully assimilate into society; and the Hispanic politicians and organizations lose their voter base.

 

Let’s think about this: Why should public school taxpayers be required to support bilingual education during the school day for one group of language speakers (Spanish) over another language group (e.g., Chinese, French, German, Laotian, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc.)?

 

For the good of all concerned, the taxpayers need to support English acquisition for all students during English classes. If students want to take foreign languages in other classes, then they should certainly have those opportunities.

 

If Hispanics want to maintain their own language and cultural activities, then they should certainly exercise that right through their churches and community organizations outside the school day; but we taxpayers should not be required to support with our tax dollars one particular language group in our public schools.

 

To read Dr. Christine Rossell’s full report produced by Texas Public Policy Foundation, please go to the following link:

 

http://www.texaspolicy.com/pdf/2009-09-RR01-bilingual-rossell.pdf

 

 

September 2009

 

Does Bilingual Education Work? The Case of Texas

 

By Christine Rossell, Ph.D.

 

Published by Texas Public Policy Foundation

 

 

Executive Summary

 

Texas is a large growing state due in part to high-birth rates and individuals choosing to move to Texas from other states and countries. According to the state demographer,

one rapidly expanding demographic is the Hispanic population, which is expected to double between 2000 and 2025 from 6.6 million people to more than 13.4 million people.

 

The number of students in Texas public schools that are not proficient in English* continues to grow. In the 2008-09 school year, Texas had 448,917 students in bilingual education.

 

† Between 1992 and 2006, Texas’ English Language Learner student population increased by 84 percent. Currently, 99 percent of the students enrolled in Texas bilingual education programs are Hispanic.

 

As Texas’ Hispanic population and immigrant population continues to grow, it is critically important that state leaders and policymakers look at the facts on how to best teach English to non-English speaking children.

 

The goal of any type of program teaching English to non-English speaking children should be learning English. Yet, opinions vary and tempers flare over which program—bilingual education or sheltered English immersion—teaches English most effectively.

 

Sometimes the term “bilingual education” is used loosely to refer to any type of English teaching program. For the purposes of this study, bilingual education is defined as instruction provided to students in their native tongue in all subjects in a self-contained

classroom with other students that speak the same language. English is typically taught by the bilingual education teacher.

 

English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) instruction is defined as a program of small group English instruction by a certified ESL teacher whose students typically spend the rest of the day in a mainstream classroom.

 

Sheltered English immersion is defined as instruction provided to students in English at a pace they can understand, taught by a trained ESL teacher, in a self-contained classroom with other students learning a second language.

 

Consider some key facts:

 

• Texas is one of only four states currently requiring bilingual education. The other three states are Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.

 

• Texas is one of only 10 states that have ever required bilingual education. The other nine states are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin.

 

Bilingual education is more expensive‡ than other programs and is the least educationally effective. (Bilingual education is more expensive than mainstreaming or sheltered English immersion, and is less effective.)

 

Students in bilingual education are not required to be tested on the English TAKS for the first three years. Testing all English Language Learners in English is the best way to hold schools accountable for the English language acquisition of their students and an excellent way to give schools credit for the extraordinary job they do of teaching English and

content such as math and science to non-English speaking students.

 

Recommendations:

 

Adopt sheltered English immersion as the default for Texas public schools;

 

• Give parents choice to pick the program that best meets their child’s needs in learning English; and

 

Test all English Language Learner students on the English TAKS.

 

* Non-English speaking children are often referred to as Limited English Proficient (LEP) or English Language Learners (ELL).

 

† In the 2007-08 school year, Texas had 424,039 students in bilingual education. In the 2006-07 school year, Texas had 396,951 students enrolled in bilingual education. This data was provided to the author by the Information Analysis Division of the Texas Education Agency by email, as the state lumps bilingual education and ESL instruction enrollment data together.

 

‡ Ranging from $211 to $402 more per student per year.

 

[Starting in Spring 2012, Texas public school students in Grades 9 – 3 will no longer be taking the TAKS tests but will be taking the new STAAR tests that are aligned with the new ELAR, Science, and Social Studies curriculum requirements adopted by the elected Texas State Board of Education starting in May 2008.]

 

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To read the Austin American-Statesman article, please go to:

 

http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/upcoming-school-finance-lawsuits-loom-1904516.html?viewAsSinglePage=true

Upcoming school finance lawsuits loom

By Kate Alexander

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Published: 9:19 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011

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