IMMERSION ANGLAISE

IMMERSION ANGLAISE
états-Unis – éducation entièrement en anglais pour les immigrants.

Les étatsuniens du Colorado et du massachusetts sont invités à imiter les
électeurs des états de la Californie et de l’Arizona en imposant un
enseignement intensif de l’anglais aux immigrants plutôt qu’un enseignement
bilingue. Le texte suivant de AP est en anglais :

Bilingual education issue on the ballots

DENVER, Colorado (AP) — The first skirmishes were fought in California and
Arizona. Now the battle over bilingual education shifts eastward to Colorado
and Massachusetts, where voters will decide November 5 how best to teach
English to students who don’t speak it.

In each state, a contentious ballot item asks voters to do what Californians
did in 1998 and Arizonans in 2000 — replace bilingual education with an
intensive English-immersion program aimed at getting them into regular
classrooms after one year.

Supporters of the ballot proposals say bilingual education, however
well-intentioned, traps foreign-born students in classrooms where they learn
neither how to write in their native language very well nor in English.

The other side insists that bilingual education can work with adequate
resources.

"We need to invest not in punitive, Draconian measures … but in teachers
who can give our kids the skills they need to succeed," said Gully Stanford,
a member of the Colorado Board of Education who opposes the ballot item.

On the ballot
Both of this year’s ballot proposals have a provision that is more severe
than the measures passed in California and Arizona.

They would allow students to continue bilingual education if the parents
requested a waiver from the immersion program. But they would hold educators
personally liable — with the possibility of being barred from teaching and
public office — if parents later make a case that their child was damaged
by being kept out of a mainstream classroom.

"No doubt the intent is to intimidate educators not to use their
professional judgment, but to be afraid of being sued," said James Crawford,
author of several books on bilingual education.

Ron Unz, a millionaire software developer from Palo Alto, California, has
spearheaded the multistate attack on bilingual education. He said the threat
of lawsuits, and the ban on teaching, were added to counter opposition from
the educational establishment.

"There was a lot of resistance in California," Unz said. "There are still
150,000 children in these (bilingual) programs, which is a lot more than
there should be. We wanted to make sure there would be less resistance in
Colorado."

Voter support
The impact of the California initiative is bitterly disputed. Unz insists it
has helped boost the test scores of 1 million immigrant children; his
critics say the gap between Hispanic and Caucasian students continues to
widen.

The proposed change in programs would affect about 70,000 students in
Colorado, most of them Hispanic, and about 36,000 students from many
backgrounds in Massachusetts.

Polls in both states suggest the ballot items have better than 2-1 support.

Raul Gonzalez, education policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza,
said the Hispanic advocacy group opposes the measures on grounds that they
would limit teachers’ options.

Colorado already has attempted to reform its bilingual system, enacting a
law this year that will place students in regular classrooms after they
become proficient in English or spend three years in bilingual programs.

Gov. Bill Owens says he supports further improvements but opposes the ballot
item because of its threat of lawsuits against educators.

"It’s a shame that such a worthy goal to help Colorado’s children is being
sidetracked by unnecessary language that, ultimately, is a fatal flaw,"
Owens said.

Playing politics?
Rita Montero, head of the pro-amendment English for the Children of
Colorado, accused Owens of being willing to consign non-English-speaking
students to "language ghettos" as he tries to attract Hispanic votes.

Rhetoric has been similarly harsh in Massachusetts, especially from
opponents of the Unz-backed initiative.

"Do we trust a right-wing millionaire from California who doesn’t have any
children?" asked Tim Duncan, chairman of the Committee for Fairness to
Children and Teachers, at a news conference September 30.

The ballot item has become an issue in the Massachusetts governor’s race.
Democratic candidate Shannon O’Brien says the initiative goes too far by
forcing schools to use a single method of teaching English; Republican Mitt
Romney supports the proposal, though he opposes the section that says
teachers can be sued individually.

Other education-related items on November 5 ballots include a proposal in
California — promoted by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger — to channel more
money to before- and after-school programs, and proposals in Florida to
limit class size and fund pre-kindergarten classes for 4-year-olds.

(Le 3 novembre 2002)