Target: Libia Gil, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director, Office of English Language Acquisition, U.S. Department of Education
Goal: Preserve bilingual education and English language immersion programs in schools with high immigrant populations
In states such as California, Texas, Florida and New York where immigrant communities constitute a large percentage of the overall population, education for immigrant children is on the decline. Where bilingual education and English language immersion programs once flourished, a trend towards English-only instruction, fueled by anti-immigrant sentiments and right-wing policies, has forced many programs to shut down or convert to meet strict new requirements.
The result is that many immigrant children, both legal and illegal, are falling behind the learning curve set by education officials and are being forced to either repeat grades or to transfer to special classes for the learning-disabled simply because they do not understand the language of instruction. The benefit of bilingual and language immersion classes is that with all the stress of a new country and a new society, immigrant children are allowed to ease into their new lives without the added pressure to immediately become fluent in English. This helps to keep students on track academically until the language barrier is no longer an issue. Furthermore, students remain engaged and motivated to stay in school instead of being discouraged and intimidated by initial failures.
Another benefit to bilingual education and language immersion programs is that they actually improve school quality for all participating students, not just immigrants. This is because proficiency in a foreign language is highly sought after in today’s job market and students who start learning at a young age have better chances at attaining fluency.
By signing this petition, you are urging education officials to support bilingual education and language immersion programs and to prevent their termination by anti-immigrant groups.
Dear Assistant Deputy Secretary Gil,
It has come to my attention that bilingual education and language immersion programs are being cut from school curricula all over the country. This is the wrong course of action because it jeopardizes the learning potential of a significant portion of our nation’s students. Immigrant children, many of whom come to this country without speaking a word of English, cannot be expected to learn the new language immediately upon arrival. Bilingual education and language immersion programs create a transition period that has been proven to help immigrant children not only keep up with academic standards, but also reduce stress and maintain scholastic engagement.
Please support immigrant students and act to save bilingual education and language immersion programs in schools. These children deserve a fair chance at success.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Monisha Pushparaj