Bilingual ed advocates support proven failure
Arizona Republic
Jul. 26, 2005

It is definite there will be turmoil and people cruelly victimized when a failed, outlawed social program re-emerges under a new name.

This is again proved true by the bilingual education program morphing into "English learner."

Advocates for the failed bilingual ed program ensure Hispanics continue to be mistreated by a system that Hispanics themselves rejected five years ago. ("Attorney to seek fairness in AIMS," Arizona Republic, July 2.) As should be expected with a disproven, unwanted program, there can be no consensus on tests for English-learner proficiency. ("English-learner test disputed," Republic, July 9.)

The salient point is this shouldn't be an issue at all. In 2000, four Hispanic citizens, Maria Mendoza, Hector Ayala, Margaret Garcia-Dugan and Norma Alvarez, worked tirelessly for an initiative (Proposition 203) outlawing bilingual ed in Arizona.

They persuaded a Hispanic millionaire from California named Ron Unz to fund it. The initiative was placed on the ballot, Arizona heeded the Hispanics' request and the measure passed.

But what would cause these Hispanics to undertake this massive effort? The answers are facts and reality.

First, they knew that Hispanic students were taught bilingual ed, but didn't learn English.

Second, they knew that other immigrant groups weren't taught bilingual ed, but did learn English.

To these facts, concerned Hispanics applied the infallible if-then logic: If Hispanics were taught in English learner classes and other immigrant groups weren't, and Hispanics weren't learning English, but other immigrants groups were, then English-learner (bilingual ed) classes were the reason Hispanics weren't learning English.

Accepting this indisputable conclusion, responsible Hispanics wisely rejected the English-learner system. At this point, nothing else mattered except getting rid of the program.

It didn't matter that a think-he-knows-what's-best-for-Hispanics attorney named Tim Hogan won a lawsuit filed in 1992 (Flores vs. Arizona) to spend more money on bilingual ed. Prop 203 of 2000 changed everything.

It no longer mattered what Hogan's group, the so-called Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, thought. Bilingual ed had been proved conceptually flawed, had a track record of complete failure, and Hispanics didn't want it.

The point is if Hogan and other do-gooders had listened to the very people they claim to be helping, AIMS testing wouldn't be an issue for Hispanics because they would speak fluent English by now.

The overarching question is why Hogan's group and educators who support bilingual ed didn't listen to responsible Hispanics.

The only question left is this. Are the English learner system advocates operating out of their own self-interest, out of malice toward Hispanics, or both?

Fred Pinkney is a former Air Force health care administrator. He and his wife moved to Gilbert in 1997.