“Immersion is the best way to learn a second language,” writes California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, defending the state board of education’s refusal to create a separate curriculum for students who aren’t fluent in English. In a San Jose Mercury News column, the governor describes how he learned English.
I know what it’s like to come to California, full of ambition and unable to speak the language. And I know that to achieve your dreams in this country and be successful, it is imperative to learn to read, write and speak English.
. . . The (state education) board’s decision to maintain high standards for all our students and not push for separate books, curriculum and classes for students of different backgrounds is the right path.
California has made tremendous strides toward achieving world-class standards for our students. We must have only one standard for all our children and one way to test whether students are meeting that standard. We shouldn’t segregate and isolate kids in separate classes simply because English is not their native language.
. . . As governor, I will continue fighting to maintain these standards and testing. I will fight to maintain the high school exit exam as well as testing our students in earlier grades to make sure they are not falling behind before it is too late to help them.
The governor didn’t say he’d restore funding to the state board of education, which was cut off by angry legislators when it refused to authorize a separate-but-unequal K-8 curriculum for students learning English.