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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » MA ballot question #2

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Author Topic: MA ballot question #2
Everard
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Massachusetts is confronted with an interesting question next week.

In place is a bi-lingual education law that is pretty bad.

On the ballot is a bi-lingual education law, that is pretty bad in a different way.

What currently exists is a law that slowly integrates non-english speakers into classes.

What is being proposed is an english emersion program... where it would be illegal to talk to a student in his native language during school hours.

My only real experience with english emersion is my friend Lena, who fled the USSR when Gorbechev let the jews leave. Her experience in english emersion was very emotionally damaging, as there was not enough time for her to learn social english. All she learned was academic english, and as such, after she left the emersion program, she couldn't communicate with her peers at all for 2 years. So she simply shut up, and quit talking... completely. It took her 3 after leaving english emersion to talk, by her estimate, more then 5 sentences at school in an entire day.

Anyrate, I think the proposed law is terrible, and the law on the books is terrible. Which leads me to my question.

Would you vote for a bad law that replaces a bad law, in the hopes that the new law has a better shot of being manipulated then the old law, or vote against it, on the principle that bad legislation should never be passed, and try to get good legislation enacted?


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BoonDockSaint
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It sounds like to answer your question we have to agree with you that the new law is bad.

why not ask, "Is the new law bad?"


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Everard
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Ignore whether you agree with the law or not, and answer the general question

I'd have to dig up the actual text of the new law, but its horrible. It won't, actually, solve any problems, because the way its written is mostly directed at punishing teachers. Whether or not one supports english emersion, this particular version is awful.


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Locus
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Is "immersion" the word you're looking for?

I couldn't say based on what you've said here if it's good or bad to vote for the new law.

Read the text ..determine what you would gain over the pre-existing law (if anything)..and go from there.

Language immersion is not a bad thing BTW. In fact, it's one of the few ways to really learn a language.

What your friend experienced is typical culture shock at being plunged into an alien culture. Most people will happily adopt a foreign friend (because they're interesting) and teach them the ropes of their new society. The US is one of the most xeno-friendly places I've been.

A good way to develop proficiency at new languages (and cultures) is (in combination with the language program) hole yourself up with a pile of reading material..chat online on forums (where they can't see you struggle and look things up) and yes watch tons of TV.


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Everard
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Ok, I'm going to rephrase this question so that we get to the point I want to discuss...

If there is a bad law on the books, and a bad law is proposed to replace that law, would you vote for the new law in the hopes that a new law is more likely to be fixed, or vote against it, working under the theory that new laws are only good if they fix the problem they are supposed to fix?


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Grant Morgan
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I'd vote against the new law. If people generally agree that the old law was bad, and the new law is passed, law-makers will conclude that most people approve of the new law, and that their work is done. The new law will probably have to be in effect for several years before there is another outcry for change. Whereas if the new law is overturned, hopefully the lawmakers will go back to the drawing board and come up with a some better right away.

Of course, there's always the danger that they'll decide the public must have liked the old law after all. So I guess you have to vote against the new law, and then write your representative to tell him why.


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Locus
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Write your representatives ...and voice your displeasure at the new law and the old law..and suggest to them an alternative.


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maniacal_engineer
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with the old law you know how it is implemented and enforced. with the new law you don't know what will actually be enforced, and what will be let slide. if it is close to a wash, or if the new one is slightly better, I would vote for the new law. Otherwise the powers that be and the entrenched bureaucracy will take the rejection of the new law as a mandate to continue with the status quo. with a new law in place there will be a settling in period in which the implementation can be affected by citizen input.
In this particular case I doubt that there will be teachers going to prison for occasional russian encouragement or clarification to a student. the draconian language is likely an unfortunate backlash against the failed bilingual education/ apartheid sytem that was put in place by the NEA. they get too keep the money and special jobs of bi-ligual teachers, and they continue to perpetuate an underclass of non-english profficient citizens that guarrantees bilingual jobs forever.
My daughter went to local public school in Japan. they told her just enough in eglish so that she didnt go to the wrong place, or eat the paste, or whatever, but other than that she had to sink or swim in japanese. she learned to speak very well (has since forgotten it all). She ahd a fair number of kids who hung around her because she was exotic and they gave her enough interaction so that she could acclimate. I would say vote for the draconian immersion program, and work to moderate the implementation. BTW you russian friend, if she moved in high school, may have had those problems anyway. I moved from LA to rural Sandiego country and didn't really have any friends my last two years of highschool. (maybe thats why I am sooo screwed up )



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Baldar
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Two wrongs don't make a right, but immersion is superior to bi lingual education, as has been shown in CA.
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Everard
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I'd say the jury is still out on that one, since if you ask 100 californians, you'll get 100 different answers...
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Baldar
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Having worked with immersion I can say it works pretty well.

[quote]In the spring of 1998 a new statewide assessment exam, the Stanford 9, was implemented in California. Due largely to the efforts of then-Governor Pete Wilson, limited-English-proficient (LEP) students were required to take this test. That summer California voters approved Proposition 227, the “English for the Children” ballot initiative, by an overwhelming 61 percent of the vote. This initiative, led by Ron Unz, reversed more than 20 years of state-mandated bilingual education for LEP children. The initiative replaced failed bilingual programs with structured English immersion for all English learners. We now have available three years of test scores on the Stanford 9 through California's Standardized Testing And Reporting system (STAR), available on at: http://star.cde.ca.gov/.

Despite all of the rhetoric decrying how California's non-English-speaking students would be harmed by the new English-immersion mandate, the end result is good news. After two years of instruction, LEP students were not only not harmed by English immersion; they made significant gains in reading and writing in English as well as math. Not surprisingly, the greatest gains were made in school districts that chose the strictest interpretation of the initiative and implemented the most intensive English-immersion programs. Scores in the bilingual programs that remained largely ramained stagnant. This report summarizes the results of Proposition 227 so far in several school districts, based on the STAR score summary reports for LEP students in reading, math, and language. For the first time this report also analyzes the redesignation rates of students by district.[/qutoe]

READ the full report: http://www.ceousa.org/READ/


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seagull
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quote:
if you ask 100 californians, you'll get 100 different answers...

Not necessarily,
If at least two of them are Jews, you might get more than 100 answers!

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Everard
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Good point seagull

All that out of the way, I DO think immersion is better then bi-lingual eduaction for a number of reasons. However, I think that there are good and bad ways to go about teaching children english. This law is one of the bad ways, as the law is directed at punishment rather then achieving a goal.

One of the real problems with immersion is the danger of isolation, for children who aren't coming from hispanic nations.

Anyrate, I'm so not sure how I am going to vote on this question. I probably will end up voting against, and writing to my state reps about why I voted no.


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KenBean
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Hi Everard

I would probably vote AGAINST the new law. The old laws have had a chance to sort of "settle in", and the necessary adjustments in carrying them out have sort of found ways to avoid the worst abuses.

Here in Texas, to change something very important, we have to get a constitutional amendment, (State), so the upshot is that we have a bunch of laws on the books that are not enforced very strictly.

For instance: In Texas, it is STILL illegal and even unconstitutional, "to carry wire-clippers in one's hip pocket".

I assure you, most Texas law enforcement personnel are not very observant to catch wire-clipper-carriers.

Conversely, we have a new hand-gun law. With proper registration, and a training class, one can get a permit to carry fairly easy....most places.
The old law was loosely written to allow one to carry "when traveling". interpreted to mean "out of one's home county"...sort of.

Politeness on our roads and highways has deteriorated a lot

Best regards
KenBean


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Locus
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"This law is one of the bad ways, as the law is directed at punishment rather then achieving a goal. "

Most modern laws are.

If we can just bury the problem beneath enough cops ..we won't see it anymore...


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maniacal_engineer
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interesting how ken and I use the idea of settling in to argue opposite sides. hmmmmm.

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