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English-Only Testing Okay in CA Schools

5 August 2009

This made me so mad today. First District Court of Appeals in SF today (SF of ALL PLACES) ruled that California schools can issue English-only assessment tests to their students, regardless of ability.

The SF Chronicle article itself is fine, nothing special. But the comments, dang, the comments are so freaking racist. I find that Americans, especially of the white, liberal variety, would rather cut of their own foot than admit to their own racism, and would rather cut off your foot than let you slander their good name with accusations of racism. But even white liberals who in most conversations make an effort to walk the party line cannot restrain themselves when the topic is English/English as national language/immigrants not speaking English/services in other-than-English languages. White Americans GET CRAZY about English as the national language debate.

Most people accept that structural racism has permeated the academy, the work place, the government, social services – hence, “structural” – that there is not a corner of civil or social society that remains untouched by racism. But even relatively open-minded folks have a hard time with the idea that there something deeply imperialist about the English language.

From the comments section of the SF Chronicle article:

“When my cousins came to America in elementary school, they knew no English. The school district in upstate NY placed them in a lower grade, so they could learn English. They were taught in English only. They eventually got English sounding 1st names & went on to become Drs., a nurse, & a principal-school administrator. Now think about what they might have become if they only spoke their native Korean all throughout their schooling. You MUST learn in English only in America. We NEED a national language, & it NEEDs to be English. Our country is being fractionalized by all the people that can not communicate in American English. It’s OUR language. You need it to be successful in mainstream America. All the rest should go back to where they came from, since they obviously don’t want to assimilate. Stop flying foreign flags too. Go back to the places you came from if you don’t like America & don’t want call yourselves American. Stop being hyphyinated. Be all American. Not half” – susan_bagel

“A better solution to this would be for goverment to regulate the progress of these Non-English speaking residents. It the person is a citizen or legal resident, okay, leave them alone and if they wish to lag behind, so be it.

For all the others, mandatory English classes with strict guidelines that insure satisfactory progress. Give them something like a four year window to learn the lingo. If they fail to do so, then institute a no questions asked policy of quick and expedient deportation.” – topsherif

“If you get some 16 year old dumb s h i t from a banana republic who can’t speak english, put the him in the first grade” – richmondkid

“don’t understand the mentality of lowering standards so that the less educated can catch up. The national language of this country is English. My ancestors learned it, nothing was translated for them. Why would you go to another country and not learn the new language? – lauralim2

And my personal favorite:

Americans are the smartest people in the world, bar none! We are also enjoy the freedoms that accompany that intelligence. If we were inclined to be bi-lingual, we would have done so long ago. We chose and still choose not to do so.”

Skimming through the rest of the comments section, I see that people REALLY hate:

1. Multi-language ATMS

2. That you have to press 1 for English (when, presumably, there should be no other language offerings)

3. Tax dollars are being spent teaching people English who “choose” to come to this country, and thus should assume all financial and emotional responsibility for life here, including learning English on their own.

I mean, maybe it’s the internet, so maybe that extra blanket of anonymity gives people the breathing room they need to really let go. But, really? I can’t believe all these people live in SF. I mean, it’s really one of those, they walk among us, moments.

FYI: A LOT of people who chimed in to bash non-English speakers’ laziness and arrogance could hardly write English themselves. Hilarious and embarrassing.

A few thoughts:

1. In purely practical terms,  it’s not that easy to learn a foreign language to the point of fluency. I don’t care how many of you (racist SF Chronicle readers) had immigrant grandparents who learned English & had no accent & assimilated perfectly fine into mainstream society & now happily vote republican. Different folks have different levels of language ability. Also, how many of the English speakers who complain about others not knowing English as well as they do can speak a foreign language fluently themselves? As I see it, it’s a bunch of lazy people complaining about other people being lazy.

2. Math tests should test math. English tests should test English. If you’re trying to test math, why give instructions in a language the test takers can’t understand? Makes no sense to me.

3. English is NOT THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE US. there is no official language in the US.

4. And lastly, I think learning so-called standard English is really important, both for recent immigrants & for children of recent immigrants, if only so they can grow up, build success careers, and stop being exploited by rich white people wanting to get richer. Since immigrants learning English is something the haters and myself can get behind, I vote we devote more resources to developing ESL programs that actually work. Being a product of the ESL program in this country, I can tell you exactly how worthless it is.

Glad to having gotten that off my chest.

– Shiyuan

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Shiyuan permalink*
    14 August 2009 11:05 am

    God, I hope those people don’t represent some kind of silent majority.

    On anonymity of the internet: I remember when Facebook first came out, in its first few years, people would write/post stuff on their accounts & their friends’ accounts that I know they would NEVER say in real life.

    And then they figured out that if they can read it, their friends can read it, and the girl they picked up from last night’s party can read it, potential employers could probably read it, too.

  2. Stephan permalink
    5 August 2009 7:35 pm

    Yikes indeed!

    I think the anonymity of the internet does let people let themselves go in a way they might not do in public discussion, but these sorts of attitudes are indeed frighteningly prevalent among white people.

    The more significant caveat is that those who post comments are usually those who feel most strongly, so these attitudes are probably not representative.

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