Friday, October 21, 2016

TESOL's statement on Prop 58: Fails to address the public's main concern

Stephen Krashen, Oct. 21, 2016

TESOL has released a statement in support of Prop 58, which will help restore bilingual education as an option for limited English proficient students in California.

The statement says that bilingualism results in personal financial benefits and will make individuals "culturally competent." Both claims are true.

But the statement fails to address to the public's main concern with bilingual programs – their effect on English language development. Ron Unz' uninformed assertion that bilingual education prevents English language acquisition is now being repeated in the media all across the country, nearly without response. (1) 

Unz' claim is dead wrong. There is an impressive amount of scientific research showing that children in bilingual education programs do better than peers with similar backgrounds in all-English programs on tests of English.

 The most recent analysis of research comparing bilingual education and English "immersion"programs, Professors Grace and David McField concluded that when both program quality and research quality are considered, the superiority of bilingual education was considerably larger than previously reported.

So far, Prop 58 has only resulted more disinformation about bilingual education reaching the public. Editorials and letters opposing 58 all assume that Unz is right and that bilingual education is ineffective.  We need to set the record straight. The research supporting bilingual education is strong. The public deserves to know about it. Time is short.

Note:  (1) I have written responses to newspaper articles on bilingual education whenever they appear.  As is always the case with letters, not all have been published. Since the Prop 58 campaign has begun, my letters have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily Press, Sacramento Bee, and Mercury News, but the effect of letters to the editor is feeble compared to the impact of official newspaper editorials and when they come from only one person.

TESOL International Association Statement on California Proposition 58.
Most recent analysis: McField, G. and McField, D. 2014.  "The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses." In Grace McField (Ed.) The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.
Previous meta-analyses of bilingual education research (all conclude that bilingual education is more effective than English immersion)
Greene, J. (1999). A meta-analysis of the Rossell and Baker review of bilingual education research. Bilingual Research Journal, 21 (2,3): 103-122.
Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., & Glass, G. (2005). The big picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness research on English language learners. Educational Policy 19(4): 572-594.
Slavin, R. and Cheung, A. (2005). A synthesis of research of reading instruction for English language learners, Review of Educational Research 75(2): 247-284.
Willig, A. (1985). A meta-analysis of selected studies on the effectiveness of bilingual education. Review of Educational Research 55(3): 269-317.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for doing this work and for the important reminder to stress English achievement for students in quality bilingual programs. The folks not sure which way to vote, especially those that don't believe bilingualism/biliteracy is a wonderful outcome in and of itself, need to know this!