Leave teaching to teachers

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¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous fran퀌_ais? ??????????

Although I agree that there should be one language that unites all people residing in the United States, preferably English since that’s the majority of the population’s native language, Measure 58 is not the answer.

According to the voter’s pamphlet, Measure 58 would prohibit teaching public school students in languages other than English for more than two years, with an exception for teaching foreign languages to English speakers.

Right off the bat, this equation seems unbalanced. English speakers can take as many classes as they need to perfect a new language that they’ll most likely never use. But non-English speakers only have up to two years to become proficient in the most widely spoken language in the United States. Children from kindergarten through fourth grade only get one year to learn English! After that, they will be taught exclusively in English.

English Second Language classes have plenty of struggles, such as lack of funding, high student-to-teacher ratios, and different primary languages spoken by the students. Once the students leave school, they return to their family members who usually don’t speak English but Spanish, Vietnamese or another language. This makes it difficult for ESL students to learn English in such a short amount of time.

This measure would be more productive if it devised how students would be able to learn English in two years, but it assumes that all that’s needed is the application of force.

If Measure 58 passes, students would be required to make satisfactory academic progress each year. This sounds a lot like the Bush policy, No Child Left Behind, which works in theory but not in practice. Students were busy taking tests rather than learning. Also, funding was taken from the classroom toward the tests.

Measure 58 estimates that this mandate will cost between $203-$253 million without increasing taxes. This will result in public schools, already strapped for cash, becoming even more desperate for cash, and next voting season, there will likely be a measure from schools attempting to procure more taxes. Even if you don’t have or know any school age children, this measure affects all taxpayers.

If foreign-speaking children aren’t given the tools that they need to learn English, they aren’t going to be able to become productive members of society.

One of the arguments in favor of Measure 58 claims, “This measure will outlaw slow learning! Cool!” This bold-typed comment makes it apparent that although America is supposedly a “melting pot,” we have a long way to go from being tolerant and understanding of other people.

Immersion is supposed to the best way for people to pick up new languages, which is the loose premise of Measure 58. However, people have different learning styles. People also learn at different paces. Some students will be able to learn English within two years, especially if they’re already multilingual. Others will need additional time.

One of my coworkers is working on becoming an elementary school teacher. Following that dream, she came to help out at a first grade classroom in the suburbs. A Latina girl, dancing a little, walked up to my coworker and asked if she could go to the bathroom. My coworker said yes and the little girl left. The teacher walked over and reprimanded my coworker for not making the girl first ask in English before allowing her to go to the bathroom.

Measure 58 has the potential to make more teachers behave like this. After six-year olds have their one-year of ESL classes, they better know how to ask to go to the bathroom in English. Otherwise, school janitors will be cleaning up extra messes.

Not all teachers will be so strict, of course, but I have sympathy for the kids that have the ones that will adhere strictly to this measure.

For the most part, I have faith in teachers. Most of the ones I’ve met love children. They enjoy teaching. They’ve passed state benchmarks. They are public servants responsible for the future generation’s education. That’s why the quote “Don’t leave teaching to teachers!” that I saw as an argument in favor to Measure 58 astounded me so much.

Sure. Why not make that a rule on every occupation. Don’t leave painting to painters! Don’t leave farming to farmers! Don’t leave garbage collecting to garbage collectors!

Measure 58 insinuates that we cannot trust educators to educate. Instead of spreading the mistrust and making their roles increasingly difficult with expensive mandates, we need to search for a more positive solution. Teachers, not lawmakers, are the experts who interact with ESL students everyday. Allow their voices to be heard on what they need in order to successfully teach their students.

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