Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Ugliness Behind English Only Opposition

According to Washington D.C. based foundation, U.S. English, "87% of Americans" favor making English the official language in the United States. With this super majority, "why" hasn't the proposed legislation made it out of sub-committee?

There are opinions, ranging from the "foundations don't want passage, because they'll be out of a job," to "it will empower functionary illiterate voting blocks who are deemed "reliable" by power brokers.

In truth, there are many politicians who fear reprisal from the Hispanic community, now 16% of America. The very notion of repealing the voting rights act is considered racist. Yet, section five's interpretation opened the door to multi-lingual voting ballots. Adopting an English only standard is perceived to be harsh, ultimately discouraging voter participation.

The topic of my book, "E" is for English, amounts to presenting an alternative to the country; in the name of "creating a stronger, smarter, more secure America." The goal is "accelerated assimulation" of immigrants. The concept is based on the premise that America is a "melting pot, not a salad bowl." Forcing new Americans to adopt English as their primary language will grant them greater access to the American dream.

The proposal is comprehensive, normally a "dirty word" in conservative vocabularies. In addition to making English the official language and going "English only" in all government related activities, the amendment mandates "six years" of a second language for all public school participants, beginning in third grade.

The latter concept would be viewed by most conservatives as "more top down control from Washington." While such a mandate would be more comparable to a directive, it still would be seen as federal encroachment. While the individual school districts would be allowed to choose the second language options, the directive would be law.

The question becomes, "why?"

In an article written by Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed., November 22, 2012, "recent studies of children growing up in bilingual settings revealed advantages over single lingual children. They included both increased attentive focus and cognition.

Compared to monolinguals, the studied bilingual children, who had five to ten years of bilingual exposure averaged higher scores in cognitive performance on tests and had greater attention focus, distraction resistance, decision making, judgment and responsiveness to feedback. The correlated neuroimaging (fMRI scans) of these children revealed greater activity in the prefrontal cortex networks directing these and other executive functions."

When seen in this light, we can quickly understand the true motives of New York Senator, Charlie Schumer and others who oppose English as official language. In actuality they are based on bigotry.

Making allowances for alternative language use "creates," in the words of former Florida Senator, Mel Martinez, "linguistical ghettos in America." When immigrants master English literacy, they are more difficult to control. Hence, those opponents of "English only" see a potential loss of power and influence over these constituents.

While 87% of the country may favor English as official language, nobody knows what percentage might support six years of a second language in the public schools! True, Hispanic families might embrace such a plan. But, what about the majority of Americans?

The proposal outlines a "slow ascent" strategy, designed to teach children, both the language and the history, geography and culture of those who speak it. The six-year journey would literally begin with comic book and video cartoons and end with a field trip to one of the countries utilizing the language.

Accompanying the ascent would be full immersion into "transformal grammar; the act of transforming sentences from surface structure to deep structure." All language is the same in deep structure. This proposal alone would outrage much of the education community.

Overall, the proposal is revolutionary. It represents more than a compromise. It attempts to make good on "something higher," as Abraham Lincoln described.

America would cement it's identity as an English speaking country. But it would simultaneously interject the European standard of "two languages are better than one."

From a parents perspective, maybe it's time for America to become a bit less colloquial, slightly less provincial. In the words of John F. Kennedy, "not because it is easy but because it is hard."

The concept of "English only" can likewise be utilized as a benchmark for future immigration reform. Should English literacy and Education become prequisites for legal immigration, the quality of our immigrants will improve drastically.

Our biggest single hurdle will be to overcome the nuisance notion of "political correctness." This, coupled with our ability to identify true bigots such as Senator Schumer can make for a better America.

An America where "inclusion," not "diversity" is the watchword.

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