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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 15, 2008 6:55 AM. The previous post in this blog was How sick it's gotten. The next post in this blog is May it please the Court, just the facts, ma'am. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This pair is a losing hand

Today we hit the halfway mark in our survey of the pending Oregon ballot measures, with Measures 58 and 60, both of which have to do with the state's public schools. Measure 58 prohibits schools from bilingually educating non-English-speaking students for more than two years. Measure 60 prohibits paying teachers based on seniority, requiring instead that teacher pay (and retention in times of staff cutbacks) be determined based on "classroom performance."

Whatever the merits of these ideas may be -- and to us they have serious flaws -- they have no place in state law. Right-wingers who think bilingual education is a bad idea and that the teachers unions have negotiated themselves too sweet a deal should run for their local school boards. That's who should be setting policy on matters such as these. Trying to micro-manage the public schools by legislation or initiative on a statewide basis isn't going to improve the quality of education, any more than the federal "no child left behind" law has.

Measures 58 and 60 are appalling lazy moves by the vocal haters of the teachers' unions. Rather than work through established channels to change school policy, they attempt to use the ballot box to impose a right-wing talk radio agenda on the public schools. In sorting through the dozen statewide ballot measures being presented to us this time around, these two stinkers are easy. They deserve a resounding no vote.

Comments (16)

I think that human beings often define themselves by their enemies. These days the right seems to have selected brown people and teachers as primary targets of their hate. Seems wacky to me, but there you go.

"Trying to micro-manage the public schools by legislation on a statewide basis isn't going to improve the quality of education, any more than the federal "no child left behind" law has."

That's right. And the 17 year long legislature created CIMCAM is the mother of all education boondoggles. The labels are gone but the appraoch, program, benchmarks and state assessments remain as if no one noticed the tremendous failure they represent. All we get from
those who claim to defend public ed is crickets.

Merit pay is an easily debated measure but billingual ed. is bad policy.

It has nothing to do with hate or brown. Oregon defenders of bilingual ed are defending what has been shown in the entire State of California to be a lesser approach than immersion.

Our State Debt of ed's obsession with CIMCAM/billingual ed failure is as wacky as it gets. Why democrats support and defend everything the state does is beyond me.

How many of you have first hand experience of schools now days? I graduated from high school seven short years ago and have many friends still attending.

I'm voting yes on measure 58 because I believe it's going to force schools into focusing on immersion rather than just getting the kids out the door. In most high schools there is very little immersion and you can literally get your diploma without speaking English. They don't 'bilingually educate' as you mentioned Jack, they educate in their first language. To me, this is absolutely unacceptable. How can you succeed in America without speaking English? Just one more way schools are failing students. And Sherwood, who said anything about brown people? Nice assumption, but there are many people of all colors who don't speak English.

I'm voting yes on measure 60 for every teacher I've had (far too many) who were horrible teachers but were so ingrained in the school that they were all but 'unfireable'. Basing pay on tenure is horrible policy. I believe basing pay on performance is just one more way public schools can learn from what works well in private schools. I really don't understand what liberal voters want from their schools. Isn't a quality education the goal? Why does it matter so much where it comes from? It seems like by siding with the unions and continuing the failed policies that aren't working you're really degrading the education of the children.

I'm in support of these initiatives circumventing the 'proper channels' of school boards, which seem all but a lost cause due to liberal and union control. We've been trying to improve these things via 'progressive' means for years and years and they obviously aren't working.

Having just moved out of Portland in part because of it's radically liberal acts and fiscal irresponsibility I'll likely vote for measure 58. As for getting on the school board or otherwise getting involved that isn't always realistic. I did however spend a year as a volunteer sheriff's deputy, 14 years as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Then there was a year on the Board of Adjustment deciding land use variances and temporary permits. Water district budget committee...I could continue...

When I vote I don't always have good choices. I think the issue through as best I can and sometimes vote to make a statement. In the past for example I've sometimes voted for none-of-the-above. I voted against Gore, George W. Bush and Kerry. In hindsight of course Gore and Kerry were lessor evils. I don't agree with much of the Spanish bilingualism imposed by "our" government. 58 will likely get my yes.

I also forgot to add, many critics of measure 60 note that it's vaguely written. I much prefer this, which will allow each district to set their own policies under the guidance of this initiative.

The only reason the schools are for bilingual education is because for every kid they keep in ESL, they get more money from the feds. I know kids who were born here, speak perfect English, not even an accent. But because of Hispanic surnames they are kept in ESL through High School. There is no reason for it.
Immersion has been proven to work in California and Massachusetts. It can work here too, and the kids will be better for it.

For M60, although I agree with the idea, I think this is a badly written measure.

I have recent experience with Beaverton schools.

I have been a president of our elementary school PTO (like PTA but without the licensing/fees/royalties).

I have been a curriculum activist.

I support the measure to limit ELL (also known as ESL).

Why?

1. Yes, the schools have an incentive to keep students classified as English Language learners as long as possible. The schools get funding up to 1.5x as much as normal students
2. there is no requirement to spend that money on ELL resources in that school; the money may be used anywhere within the district, for almost any purpose.
3. While the extra ELL support sometimes seems to target only the Hispanic community, realize that in many schools, there are many, many other languages that must be addressed. Providing extra support for only Hispanic teaching tools, but ignoring the rest of the community is wrong. Spanish texts don't help too many Asian or African students.
4. Other states have demonstrated positive results from English immersion and shorter times spent in ELL curriculums.
5. ELL students are pulled out from essential classes; the alternate instruction does not cover the same material, so students may fall farther behind the longer they are in ELL classes.

A few anecdotes:
- at our elementary school, several ELL students excelled, and were near the top of their class. Their English reading, writing, and speaking were outstanding and a model for any student. They remained classified as ELL throughout elementary school and middle school
- a close and dear US friend attended elementary school during his 6 years in Denmark. He was dumped into a Danish school where the only language accommodation was an afterschool English-Danish class. He picked up the Danish language and was elementary-school fluent within 6 months.

There needs to be an incentive for schools to get ELL students into the mainstream. The earlier they are reading, writing, and speaking English fluently, the better.

Yes, there are flaws with the measure as written. But have you seen the schools or the unions making any effort to do things differently? more efficiently?

Yes, I admit, there will always be a need for some students to get extra instruction time. Not every student can pick up English quickly. Heck, there are English-native students who graduate from schools unable to read, write, or speak English fluently! But this measure is not about the damage done by social promotion.

Even though I'm a flaming liberal, I'm convinced that English immersion is a better way for schools to go in our contemporary society. Native language instruction for non-native English speakers helps them the way leg amputation helps people to use curb cuts. But I wouldn't ever vote for 58. Initiatives are a ridiculous factory for public policy, and the only one I'd consider voting for is one that reduces or eliminates the initiative process. Besides, the right answer for the schools for the long run is to make Spanish study mandatory for native English speakers.

Our initiative, referendum, and referral processes are valuable and important tools that allow citizens to do things they would otherwise not be able to do. They're excellent check and balances for state governments and allow us a method for breaking the 'capture theory' cycle.

RE: "make Spanish study mandatory for native English speakers"

In what global worldview does this make sense?

In most of the world, English is the common ground for business, for cooperation, heck even for general cross-border communication.

Learning Spanish might help you in certain parts of North America, but not in the rest of the world. And would that be the Spanish that is spoken south of the border, or in Spain?

Boy, the nativists are out in force today. And this is especially brilliant:

Learning Spanish might help you in certain parts of North America, but not in the rest of the world. And would that be the Spanish that is spoken south of the border, or in Spain?

If you speak the language and have travelled in Spanish speaking countries, you will know that there are certainly differences in vocabulary from place to place, but the Spanish that I used in, say, Chile worked quite well in Spain. And BTW, Spanish is the first language in more countries than is English.

Hey, if you don't want to learn Spanish, then learn another language. Your choice. Or travel abroad and expect everyone else to speak English. WTF, we're Important, Powerful People and they're not, right?

I suppose the next target of the nativists will be churches that have the infernal gall to offer services in languages other than English.

In what global worldview does this make sense?

In what global world view (other than the hidebound, parochial, xenophobic one) does it not?

Nice. "Joey Link's" link goes to NorthwestFirearms.com. Activist for immersion programs during the day, firearm enthusiast by night.

And I'll be voting YES, a resounding YES on both issues.

As for Allan's comment - "Initiatives are a ridiculous factory for public policy ..." After seeing ALL the garbage that the legislators put out I thank God we have the ability to put things we really do want (or at least want the ability to vote on) up for public debate and vote. The legislators are the biggest group of slime balls who accomplish the biggest load of crap and all at taxpayers expense.

and his - "...Spanish study mandatory for native English speakers." If I want to move to a country that speaks Spanish, I'll learn it; until then I'm fine without it.

Thanks for the free plug C-Ho!

Amazing how the people that are gainst M-58 Pretend that CA AZ & MA don't exist. These States have proven for over 10, 8 & 6 years now that Immersion works AND Immigrants there voted FOR Immersion, so stop the racial remarks.

Here in Oregon in 2006, only 22 of 129 ESL schools passed standards. In Salem-Keizer, 79.9% are NOT proficient after 5 years in ESL classes. This is a Tragedy for these students and they need help with English now, not aybe in many years from now. Woodburn = 87% are NOT proficient after 5 yr.s

FACT: Hispanic Parents @ 9th st. Elementary in LA, Boycotted their School because their Children, after years of attendance, were not proficient in English, this is how it all got started.

Vote YES on M-58, English for the Children.


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