Criticism and Praise For Obama’s View on Bilingual Education

By Mary Ann Zehr — September 29, 2008 1 min read

Lance T. Izumi and Bruce Fuller provide opposing opinions in the New York Times about presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama’s support for bilingual education.

Mr. Izumi argues that English immersion works better than bilingual education, citing the success of a single elementary charter school in Los Angeles County. (I’ve written on this blog before about Mr. Izumi’s preference for English-immersion methods.) Mr. Izumi is the senior director of education studies for the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy.

Mr. Fuller says bilingual education can work well, if the teachers who carry it out are well-prepared to do so. Mr. Fuller notes that a review of research concerning the teaching of literacy to English-language learners favors bilingual education. Mr. Fuller is the director of the Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent policy research center based at University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University.

By the way, I’ve been trying since the Republican National Convention to get an answer to what Republican leaders mean when they say in their platform that “we support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students’ future potential.” I’ve sent e-mail requests umpteen times requesting clarification and left voice mail messages several times for press officers with the Republican Committee. Still, no one has responded with further clarification.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.