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Old 12-26-2014, 09:46 AM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Default Letter to the Editor

There was a bit of upheaval in the newspaper regarding the letter by Tim Imhoff that I posted in the media thread. There were complaints that because he wasn't Mexican he couldn't know anything about being Mexican and another criticizing him for mentioning that children should know English before starting school. This is a letter I wrote last week in response.

To the editor:
Today is 2014 where preschools teach children the names of objects, colors, shapes, letters, numbers, some begin to recognize written words and a child entering kindergarten is expected to start reading. But unfortunately many children do not attend preschool.
According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) quote; "(C)oncerns about the future trajectories of young children of immigrants, especially during the transition between pre-kindergarten and elementary school, a period critical to a child's development and academic preparation. Any disparities in school readiness may carry through the rest of K-12 education, lowering the educational and socioeconomic attainment of the growing number of children from immigrant families.
For example, Dual Language Learners from Spanish-speaking households enter kindergarten with substantially lower literacy skills than those of children from English-speaking households, and the gap between the two groups improves only slightly by the end of the third grade. In particular, children from Mexican immigrant families score significantly below national norms" end quote.
During a previous FUSD Board Meeting Supt. Dr. Nishino and Asst. Supt. Michael Johnson stated FUSD had "many students entering the 4th grade lacking academic English skills" to comprehend the text books.

The Education Testing Service Policy Report assessed the Dept. of Education's National Adult Literacy Survey found, quote; "Those who began speaking English before they were six years old scored nearly 80 points higher, while those who first studied English between 7 to 13 years old were (at) 60 points" end quote.
School is in session 190 days a year, a little more than half. With class breaks, children are exposed to maybe four hours of instruction in English where teachers do not talk constantly. Much of the English heard is from kids their own age; not the adult level needed to attain the academic English Nashino and Johnson spoke of.
The idiolect of a child before entering kindergarten is important to their success throughout their education; particularly after 3rd grade when knowing academic English is required to understand science, history, social studies texts. Fourth grade is a watershed year; studies show that a child not reading proficiently in the 4th grade has a 78% chance of not catching up.

Years ago listening to radios, TV or going out in public you heard adults speak English, even when another language was spoken in the home. Today we have Spanish TV and radio channels.
Fillmore has neighborhoods where English is hardly heard. A child watching a movie in English hears as much, if not more, adult English than a day in school. Many immigrant parents think their child's rudimentary English is proficient, when it is not.
The ideology that the immigrant families need to be protected and not told their child should start school knowing English is a real disservice to those families.
We have campaigns telling people to eat vegetables, or talk to your child from the day they are born. But not one campaign telling immigrant families the importance of learning English to give their children a better chance at a successful education.

Jean McLeod

Last edited by Jeanfromfillmore; 12-26-2014 at 09:48 AM.
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