Fat Ladies Singing, in English and Spanish

At some point, as all of us in America’s audience grow restless, we begin to wonder when the Fat Lady will approach the center of the stage and Sing. Yesterday’s California newspapers may have carried the first few notes of that concluding tune.

Over the past few years, at enormous cost and effort, the educational establishment of the state of California has developed a new test, bearing the appropriately bureaucratic acronym CELDT, and designed to monitor the educational progress of the state’s 1.6 million limited-English students.

The results of that test, released yesterday, contain some encouraging signs of progress. Apparently almost 25% of those supposed English- learners have now supposedly learned English, though I personally regard the entire classification scheme and its predecessor tests as being doubtful at best.

But whether or not the test and its obscure categories accurately measures what it means for a young child to have or to have not learned English, more intriguing than these absolute results are the relative ones. At the Los Angeles Times story below indicates, across California, English learners in the “English” programs established by Prop. 227 were almost three times as likely to learn English as those still attending the holdout bilingual programs that the initiative largely eliminated. Similarly, a front page story in the Ventura County Star notes that “bilingual” districts show notably worse test results than “English” ones, and the San Jose Mercury News makes similar points.

Such a counter-intuitive scientific revelation must surely rank with the time-space paradoxes of Einsteinian relativity or the physical indeterminancy of Heisenberg quantum physics for its bizarre implications. Consider that we have now discovered—all our educational expectations to the contrary—that children taught English by being taught in English will learn English much faster than children taught English by being taught in Spanish, or even Swahili. I am currently awaiting a call from the Nobel Prize Selection Committee of the Swedish Academy regarding this scientific breakthrough.

The shocking evidence that two plus two actually equals four rather than the cube-root of pi as had long been claimed by the learned scholars at our academic schools of education is still resisted by some. As the stories indicate, outgoing California State Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin would rather deny the validity of the tests produced at great effort by her own educational underlings rather than treacherously betray her pledge to defend the cube-root of pi. However, Eastin had become an almost invisible and much ridiculed figure during her second term of office, never having really recovered from the scandal following the explicit sale of her political endorsement to failed gubernatorial candidate Al Checchi for a cool $1 million of statewide television advertising.

These new CELDT numbers merely confirm those that I had previously distributed regarding the overall performance on various academic tests of California’s English learners. As the PDF link below indicates, younger English-learners not in bilingual are nearly three times as likely to be reading at or above grade level as their counterparts who benefit from that brilliant

system. In fact, an examination of the data posted on the California State Department of Education’s own official website reveals that non-bilingual English learners outperform bilingual English learners in every academic subject area and at every grade level, and have done so during every year since the tests began. Since “English” thus merely leads among statewide tests by a close margin of 160-to-0, I fully expect bilingual advocates to immediately demand a painstaking Florida-style recount from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Other bilingual advocates seem more inclined to simply throw out all the ballots as tainted. Apparently anticipating the California test scores about to be released, Arizona State University’s multiculturalist research center had already prepared and then immediately distributed a powerful press release—though one actually ignored by all the press—arguing that test scores were an improper means of evaluating the merits of bilingual education programs. Presumably, divine revelation to bilingual education oracles has much more scientific validity.

This controversial suggestion that tests were inappropriate was backed by quotations from long- time bilingual education advocate James Crawford, a self-employed activist, whose rank was here upgraded to the distinguished title of “Independent Scholar.” Crawford states that bilingual education is best, and that any tests that indicate otherwise are useless and meaningless.

The abstract philosophy claiming that the entire world disappears whenever you close your eyes is generally known as Solipsism.

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