Without a dream we need bilingual classes
The Arizona Republic
May. 11, 2005

Richard Ruelas

State and federal laws prohibit intentionally giving a rotten education to students living here illegally. That means Phoenix schools are going to keep producing smart kids who want to attend college and get high-paying jobs. So, the least we can do is bring back bilingual education.

Not to teach these kids English, but so they can relearn Spanish.

The number of smart students who crossed the border illegally as toddlers is reaching epidemic levels, despite the efforts of Republican legislators to undermine public education.

Trouble is, a college degree doesn't change legal status. Because they're here illegally, they have no Social Security number and can't get one without returning to their home country for at least 10 years.

A bill in Congress called the Dream Act would allow college students to obtain some legal status. But don't bet on it passing.

So, it seems fair that we prepare these kids to use their education in Mexico, Central America or Spain. Otherwise, the education taxpayers have provided will go to waste. These students might speak conversational Spanish, but they need to learn the higher-level terms that would let them be an engineer or accountant. They'll need calculus, chemistry and physics in espaņol.

Voters banned bilingual education a few years ago because people said it lured kids into the country.

This is different. Here, bilingual education would provide these brainiacs incentive to leave.

Reach Ruelas at (602) 444-8473 or richard.ruelas@arizonarepublic.com.