“Putting our minds to helping immigrants learn English”

Putting our minds to helping immigrants learn English is Los Angeles column by Steve Lopez where he makes good points about parent engagement, and about the importance of parents learning English. At the same time, he rightfully backtracks from some harsh comments he made in an earlier column about the same topic where he was inappropriately judgmental about Spanish use at parent meetings.

During my community organizing career, we often held our meetings bilingually or sometimes just in Spanish. At the same time, we always encouraged people to learn English because the reality is that English is the language of power here. As Lopez points out, though, there are often extenuating circumstances for non-English speaking parents, including having to work multiple jobs and the lack of ESL classes. There are still plenty of things parents can do to help their kids academically, though, and, as he writes, school districts can help by re-instituting adult ESL classes.

Lopez suggests that part of the $200 million in private donations the LA School Superintendent is raising could be used for this purpose. Now that would be a good use of the monies. I fear that much of it is going to be used to further ineffective and, in some cases, destructive strategies pushed by some school reformers.

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