Declaring Victory and Going Home

(Originally confidential)

Ken Noonan (founding president of the California Assocation of Bilingual Educators) and our most prominent English immersion convert just returned from his participation in the White House conference on Hispanic Education with some interesting stories.

First, his forthright advocacy of English immersion and Prop. 227-type programs caused quite a stir, and led other supporters to start coming out of the woodwork. In particular, Monica Lozano, publisher of La Opinion, America’s largest Spanish-language daily (and according to what I have heard for years, a closet supporter of immersion) was especially friendly. Since Gov. Davis has appointed Lozano to be president of the State Board of Education, Davis’s anti-bilingual policies are no surprise.

Second, Noonan said that a number of the bilingual education advocates with whom he spoke claimed that since English immersion uses at least a few words of Spanish (say 2%) it is really just a different type of bilingual education, and therefore its success is no surprise. Noonan said he felt the bilingual advocates might be planning to “declare victory and go home” on the issue.

Finally, the White House policy proposal which came out of the conference emphasized rapid English profiency as a key goal of Hispanic education while saying not a word about bilingual education, an extremely remarkable example of “the dog that didn’t bark.”

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