Bilingual Education Is It Our Responsibility




Bilingual Education: Is It Our Responsibility?
Bilingual education in public schools has been the topic of much discussion over the last several years. This discussion has been prompted due to the ever increasing numbers of Spanish-speaking persons emigrating to the United States, especially in those states that border Mexico--California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. What the debate seems always to overlook is our country’s other non-English speaking members. This country is now and has always been the “Melting Pot” for the world with persons emigrating to this country from most every country in the world; however, we commonly gear the focus of bilingual education toward our Spanish-speaking citizens.
Something we should point out is that for the most part these people are coming to the United States of their own will. They leave their loved ones, homes, and country to seek a better life in this country and in some cases expect, even demand, that the taxpayers of this country foot the bill. Educating the world in the language of their own country and English should not be a burden for the United States to bear.
Having been married into a Hispanic family provided many opportunities to gather data, both pro and con, on the subject of bilingual education. Often family members felt that bilingual education should be mandatory in public schools; however, the non-English speaking adults in the household made no attempt to become English-speaking members of the community. I have even witnessed instances where one parent was bilingual yet continued to use the Spanish language as the primary language of the household. If the English-speaking member of the household is not willing to assist the other members of the family in learning and using English why should the taxpayers be forced to provide education in Spanish? Other members of my Hispanic family voiced great opposition to mandatory bilingual education. They believed it should be the individual’s responsibility to provide the education necessary to become an English-speaking member of our society.
Another viewpoint on this subject was provided to me some sixteen years ago. The bilingual education issue was of primary concern to those states bordering Mexico and further limited to the metropolitan areas adjacent to the border. The mother of an acquaintance of mine was a Japanese national who had married an American Soldier, moved to the states and at the time spoke very little English. Over the years Ruako Gilkey had become a well educated, respected, prominent citizen in her community--El Paso, Texas.
Ruako was extremely vocal when it came to bilingual education, speaking out against it at every opportunity, enough so that local news agencies repeatedly interviewed her. Her views and comments were quoted time and again in area news papers and she appeared in numerous television news interviews. Her whole precept on the subject of bilingual education was based on the fact that she had come to America of her own free will and never expected or felt that the American government owed her anything. Further, since it was her choice to become an American citizen, it was also her responsibility to learn the English language and raise her children accordingly. Personally, I agreed with Ruako’s position on the issue unequivocally.
To some this may seem a prejudicial, racist position; however, these views are based on personal experiences from having been a member of a Hispanic family and my friendship with Ruako Gilkey. Race, national origin, and the prejudices that usually accompany these types of hard issues are not a factor in determining where to stand on this sensitive topic. This position is based on what many non-United States nationals and I consider the responsibility and obligation of those wishing to make this country their home. Just as it should be for persons emigrating to America from Mexico, as well as, all other nations.


Bibliography: