English-speaking children to develop their latent capabilities as bilingual and bicultural Americans. At the same time, such programs enable English-speaking children also to benefit by developing similar bilingual and bicultural abilities and sensitivities. Bilingual programs have been enacted in a number of school districts, but the full potential of these programs has yet to be realized because of the shortage of good bilingual teachers, an absence of general support from English-speaking members of the community, and shortages of school funds for what too many people consider to be a “frill.” In many cases, teaching in Spanish is the only way to reach a child. Without such instruction, the abilities of many youngsters will never be fully developed. All the studies of legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico and the migrants from Puerto Rico indicate that a substantial number of these people are economically disadvantaged. Without educational experiences that are capable of reaching them, it is unlikely that they will be able to improve their economic position as they become the parents of the next generation. Educational credentials are now more important as keys to unlocking doors of opportunity than in the past when other language groups were immigrating to the United States. Bilingual education offers the prospect of overcoming both the credential obstacle and the real educational barriers that exist for a significant number of citizens. A Spanish-speaking child can learn English effectively through bilingual teaching, and bilingualism is also an excellent way to enhance the general quality of education for both Spanish-speaking and non-Spanish-speaking students. The only real danger inherent in bilingual instruction is that it may be carried to excess. This has happened in some predominantly Hispanic communities. That is to say, in some instances teachers will take advantage of the opportunity to teach in Spanish by speaking only Spanish reverse monolingualism. Teachers, after all, want to convey their ideas to their students. If the students prefer to speak Spanish, there is sometimes a tendency to respond by doing so exclusively. This tendency is a legitimate concern, since it effectively undermines the entire rationale of bilingual instruction. Extreme care in teacher selection as well as on-going monitoring of the instructional program should suffice to control these breakdowns. Obtaining and retaining qualified teachers, however, is the potential Achilles’ heel of such programs and will require broadbased community support, a much wider acceptance of the merits of bilingualism . by the educational establishment, and possibly even a markedly preferential pay rate for effective bilingual teachers. The efficacy of bilingual instruction in Spanish and English will no doubt continue to cause much debate among educators, parents, children, and taxpayers. It might also generate jealousies among other ethnic groups who feel . that their language should be substituted for Spanish. In some instances educational need may actually justify such concern. This is now the case with some Indian reservations and Eskimo villages. But despite all of these problems, it is likely that the momentum of national events will soon lift the topic of English and Spanish bilingualism out of the confines of local school interests into the realm of the national interest. Spanish will be the second language of the United States. Vernon M. Briggs Jr. is a labor economist at Cornell University. He taught at the University of Texas at Austin from 1964 to 1978. A plea for the `mojado’ By Arnold Shelby Houston In my view the most significantly pleasing social development possible during the next 25 years would be the legitimation of the wetback. Working daily with mojados, I have grown to respect their pride and isolation. They want to work in the U.S. labor market not only to earn their weekly wages, but also to improve their status in life. They arrive early in the morning and want to work overtime. The Texas boom would not be so powerful without wetback sweat and steadiness. Undocumented aliens have adjusted, very often with silence, to the language barrier. Since listening without speaking is an advantage at times, they understand far more English than they allow. But they are scared men and womenfor more reasons than the obvious one. A man I know in his early 40s has been in the United States for eight years. He is raising his four children at home, his wife controlling the nest while he works two jobs for total pay of $220 a week. It is his frustration that his children cannot go to public school. The law states that a wetback’s child cannot attend a Houston public schoolalthough for $162 a month the child can attend. My friend cannot afford, obviously, this Catch-22. He is also deeply afraid that immigration will be notified that his child does not have a U.S. birth certificate and will come knocking at his door one night. His children attend a church school and learn what they can. Afraid that the children may be spotted and picked up, my friend and his wife forbid them to go out onto the streets after school. This society will suffer grave consequences 20 to 25 years from now if these hijos are not educated in the next four or five years. Others coming across are not so steady or so family-oriented as my friend. Young, single men and women, settling in South Texas primarily to work, they are country Mexicans, living ten to a house, four to a room. These younger ones are the futurebut what of their pride and isolation? Exhausted in the evenings, they are uninterested in assiduously educating themselves, and they are afraid to assimilate. A tiny minority rebels in the bars on Canal Street with drink and talk, but the majority are wonderful young people commit ted to survivalso industrious by day, yet so scared by night. Thus, my sadnessI hear the frustrations because I work with them. I feel for them and worry about them, if only because the United States needs them and they need the United States, or perhaps because they need to work and I need them to work for me. In the eastend community of Houston we discuss the possibility of a totally uneducated mojado generationspeaking street English and domestic Spanish, but without skills in any rudimentary, practical discipline. No matter how mediocre a Houston public school education may be in 1979, the law should allow the children of the mojados to attend. Arnold Shelby owns a furnituremaking business in Houston, about 40 percent of whose workers are undocumented. He told the Observer that he pays them a starting wage of $3 .25 an hour; with seniority, they get as much as $4.25. Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons, he spends an hour or two teaching some of them English. Shelby describes himself as a patron. 26 DECEMBER 28:1979
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