The State Passed A Law That Says Schools Have To Teach In English And Only In English. But Is That Really Ok?
In 1987, when Bill Clinton was the Governor of Arkansas he put forth a law that enforced all the schools in the district to teach in 'English Only.'
It goes without saying that this rule was pretty hard on the immigrants who had a huge language barrier to deal with, without the help of this law included.
Back in the 1980's, Mississippi, North Dakota, and North and South Carolina followed suit and put into force the English-Only teaching in schools. But ever since Bill Clinton left Arkansas, it was hard for the legislature to put this law into action.
The main problem here is that these schools in the district receive a continuous influx of immigrants who do not have English as their native or primary language. Educating these children will be hard as the chances of them falling behind their peers is more.
#2 The schools find it hard to follow the rule enforced in 1987.
"These kids are migrants, I mean, fresh off the boat, and they have no clue what's going on," Paul Lokebol, a community liaison at Helen Tyson Middle School, also in the Springdale school district, said. "From [the] time I walked in until now, I've seen a tremendous change in the lives of the students. I'm not talking about academic-wise, but also behavior-wise."
"I know what it's like, I've been there," Anita Tomeing, a fellow community liaison, and Marshall Islands immigrant said. "I'd write notes to my parents and tears would smear the ink."
#1 What the experts say
"Students need to see themselves in the school in order to excel academically," Rachel Hazelhurst, a language specialist at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Los Angeles, California, said. California also requires schools to teach only in English, yet charter schools are exempt, notes The Atlantic. "If there's a disconnect between students' home identities...and what's promoted by the school, students are more likely to disconnect, disinvest, and experience educational failure....[When] children lose their home language skills, we as educators have a serious problem … fractured communities are created when families can no longer [talk] on a deep level about issues that matter."
"Cultural knowledge and pride are important in all children's cognitive and social development," Teresa McCarty, an education and anthropology professor at UCLA, said.
"We want these young kids to be successful in school but, of course, we also want them to stay rooted — know their language, culture and heritage," Benetick Maddison, founder of the Marshallese college group Manit Club, said, reports PRI. "Staying rooted will be of huge benefit for them later in the future. But in order for anyone to know their culture and heritage, they must know the language first."
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