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Bilingual Education as a Campaign Issue--In the Minds of Opinion Writers

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From news coverage of the campaign trail, I conclude that the presidential candidates aren't talking about how best to educate English-language learners. And they are hardly raising the topic of immigration at all on the trail, except through ads in the Spanish-language media.

But that hasn't stopped the Education Watch of the New York Times from featuring bilingual education, which Sen. Barack Obama publicly endorsed months ago, as a campaign issue.

This week the New York Times followed up on the two commentaries it published recently on the issue with an opinion by Sandra Tsing Loh, a Los Angeles writer. She's in favor of bilingual schools that integrate children from low-income immigrant families with middle-class native speakers of English.

Sen. John McCain doesn't say in the highlights of his education plan what he proposes for English-language learners, but he has voted for English immersion over bilingual education (See "John McCain on Immigration" notes on a July 2001 vote). The Republican platform calls for an "English First approach," whatever that means.

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Bilingual education is superior to English only. There are problems with where Bilingual education is done, and that it is almost exclusively done in Spanish. The regulations need to loosen up and there needs to be more opportunities in receiving bilingual education. One of the best ideas I've seen is dual language education which includes many from at least two language backgrounds. In my district, we are discussing implementing language teaching from Kindergarten on. Our largest ethnic groups are Chinese and Hindi speakers, but they are going with Spanish because of material availability. While I think Spanish is quickly becoming a second language in the US, our district has very few Spanish speakers. It is a shame that they are ignored due to lack of availability of materials and teachers. Especially when those countries have the largest populations in the world. The language minority students are often ignored and another priority takes it place.

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