Letter to the Editor, The New York Times
The March 12 front-page article about Manhattan’s Liberty High School provided intriguing insights on a program which seeks to offer new immigrants a smooth beginning to their American education (“Schools Help Immigrants Scale Barriers of Literacy and Language,” March 12, 2000). But the federal financing for bilingual education distorts the priorities of such programs so that valuable instruction time and resources seem to be spent on everything but what is most important – providing children with the English language skills they need to succeed. Liberty’s Department of Education-sponsored initiatives as developing multicultural awareness assessments, designing a new instrument to measure students’ self-esteem, and a faculty research project on methodology in the teaching of Chinese, may be interesting for the teachers, but seem of little value to these students at such a critical time in their education.
Schools like Liberty can play a vital role in helping these young immigrants become valuable contributors to our economy and society – but effectively teaching English must remain a primary goal or these children will only fall further behind.
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