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Bi-Lingual Education:  A Public Problem With a Private Answer
by
Derek E. Hollemans
(07/11/98)

What should any level headed American be concerned with more than the education of our children? Today's children are tomorrow's leaders, and it is necessary that all children receive a quality education, so that they might succeed later in life. However, differing versions of what a quality education consists of is what is heating the current debate in California. In one corner, there are proponents of a bi-lingual education system for students of Spanish-speaking heritage. This system would allow students to be educated in both Spanish and English, which would, in theory, allow them to function in society, but at the same time maintain their Mexican roots. On the other side, there are proponents of legislation that would only teach English in California's public schools. Both sides can bring interesting points to support their cause, and the debate has reached fever pitch on the west coast. However, as is typical with any government legislation, the big picture is being completely ignored. The problem with bi-lingual education lies neither with English nor Spanish, but with the public school system itself.

Presently, public schools have no reason to excel. No matter what happens in the outside world, public schools will never go out of business, and therefore have no incentive to offer special programs to entice students to attend. Students are not paying for their education on an "as given" basis. The money that schools are receiving comes straight from the taxpayers, which means that parents of schoolchildren need not find a school where they will get the best value for their dollar. It is a no win situation for both the school, and the student. Now, of course there is always the argument of private schools. Sure there are respectable private schools that operate much more efficiently, and much more successfully than most public schools. However, there is a catch. Most people are unable to afford to pay taxes towards the public education system, and at the same time pay tuition for their children to attend a private school. This is a grand trap, which causes most students to be stuck in the system of public education whether they like it or not. This would not be so terrible, but the state governments are sending out blanket legislation which effects all public schools throughout the state, and in turn allows no choice for the student. Wherever the gavel falls, every student winds up paying the ultimate price.

For this reason alone, we must look further than English vs. Spanish. California needs to understand that the entire public school system is what is really at fault. Imagine a state in which the entire education system was moved to the private sector. Ultimately, the choice of curriculum would lie with the individual school itself. What would this mean for the students?  Competition. Schools would be competing for children, and would therefore begin offering programs which would entice students to attend their schools. As competition between schools increased, so would the quality of education that each individual received. This would give students a choice. History has proven that government is most efficient when operated at the smallest level possible. It is possible that this decision be diminished right down to the individual family, so why should this option be ignored? If a parent wished for his or her child to be educated in an all-English school, they would simply find a suitable school where they could get the best education for the best price, and send their child there. The same would be likewise for a student whose parents wanted him enrolled in a bi-lingual program. California is one of the largest states in our nation, and for the politicians to think for one second that one piece of legislation will solve every child's problems is a joke. Privatizing education will create schools that are concerned about the welfare of their students. It would create efficient programs, in which parents would be able to choose the type of school they want their children to attend. The personal decisions would be given back to the parents, instead of sitting in the iron fist of the government.

There is always going to be the argument that this idea is either extreme, or not affordable, but one must look past the single issue, and examine the scene as a whole. In the end, every person's pocketbook would prosper. Compare the legalized monopoly of the United States Postal service to the competition of internet based e-mail. Because the US Postal Service has no competition, every time a person wants to send a letter to grandma, they must pay thirty-two cents to the government. They pay this fee because there is no competition, and the taxpayer will either pay thirty-two cents, or leave the letter undelivered. When this is contrasted with the unregulated free market of internet e-mail, the answer is obvious One can literally send thousands of e-mail messages back and forth around the world with no more strain than the click of the button. The internet truly is the free market in it's purest form. Consumers can perform such tasks because e-mail is unregulated, and different services can set their own agendas. Therefore, several services allow you to use e-mail for free. The only thing you must put up with is a handful of advertisements which fund the software. The wonderful thing is, if you do not like the policies of one web based e-mail service, you can move to another one with the click of a button. Hotmail, Yahoo, Juno, Rocketmail, and USAnet are just a few of the web based e-mail programs that are constantly coming up with new, innovative programs to entice users to use their service. The only thing the public received from the postal service was a three cent hike in the cost of stamps. This whole analogy can be directly molded to the public education system, where there is slightly more competition than the US Postal Service, but not much. America's public schools have been stagnant, and declining for years. As more and more taxpayer dollars are bled into the system, test scores are constantly going down. In the government's eye, money is the ultimate solution to any problem, and why shouldn't it be? They have an endless supply, and can force the taxpayer to "contribute" more at any time.

The public school system is the root of all problems with California's bi-lingual debate. Choices are no longer left up to families and individuals. Every time one turns around, they see that the government has begun making more and more choices for them. The government decides whether or not people must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. The government decides what heinous legislation the public must fund whether or not they benefit from it. The government decides what substances it's people can put into their bodies. The government decides which certain people are suitable for others to have an intimate relationship. Once again, the government has stepped in, and if it is not stopped, the state will soon decide whether the children of California receive a bi-lingual education or not. The public has become so naive and ignorant to the sheer power of the government that Washington politicians are slowly manifesting themselves in every facet of life. This is just another step for the government to take away an individual's choice. It is time for America to wake up and move out from under the roof of it's big brother.


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