Ron Unz: “Latino Children Deserve More Than Just Half an Education”

Bilingual Education Leads to Latino Poverty

The Sunday Los Angeles Times (3/29/98) carries an article summarizing the recent research findings by two non-partisan academics on the impact of bilingual education on future earnings. Contrary to their original expectations, labor economists Mark Lopez and Marie Mora found that participation in bilingual education programs actually leads to dramatically LOWER future earnings for first and second generation Latino immigrants, compared with similar individuals who had managed to avoid receiving the alleged benefits of bilingual education.

Controlling for all other relevant characteristics—including family language proficiency and socio-economic status—left the earnings of first generation ex- bilingual students at 63% of those who had been enrolled in an all-English program. Thus, avoiding bilingual education raised Latino immigrant earnings by over 50%, a huge gap. Similarly, the absence of bilingual education raised second-generation Latino immigrant earnings by almost 40%. First and second-generation Latino immigrants who avoided bilingual education were also less likely to drop out of school and more likely to earn an equivalency degree if they did so.

These important findings reinforce the grim statistics from California’s educational system. Of all the 140 language-immigrant groups in California, Spanish-speaking immigrants are overwhelmingly the most likely to be provided the alleged benefits of bilingual education programs. They also do the worst in school, having the highest drop-out rates, lowest test scores, and lowest rates of college-admission of any other immigrant group.

Since the Lopez-Mora study seems to indicate that eliminating bilingual education might raise Latino immigrant earnings by up to 50%, self- proclaimed immigrant advocates must now explain why they continue to support an educational system which leads to Latino poverty instead of Latino success.

We’d obtained a copy of the study ourselves a week ago, and will be glad to provide copies upon request.

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