If bilingual teachers are bilingual, why can’t they pass a test of English fluency, asks Rich Lowry. Massachusetts is finding that long-time bilingual teachers have trouble expressing themselves in English.
Critics of bilingual education have long contended that rather than — as advertised — a way to ease immigrants into instruction in English, it constitutes an educational ghetto where students are taught in their native tongues and are kept from learning in English. The fluency debacle in Massachusetts is a stark demonstration of this critique.
In Somerville, Mass., the five bilingual teachers who took the test failed. In Lowell, 22 of 25 teachers failed. In Lawrence, 27 out of 31 teachers failed. The widespread failure to pass the test is a sign that bilingual education is a misnomer. It is really monolingual education, in any language but English.
In November, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative calling for English-immersion for immigrant students.