Immigration and Schools, Part 3: Instruction

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Immigration and Schools, Part 3: Instruction
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Immigration & Diversity
The abolition in 1965 of the national origins quota system which favored European legal immigration and lax enforcement of current immigration laws which produced high levels of Latin American illegal immigration have together radically transformed the United States (“Minority Population Tops 100 Million,” U. S. Census Bureau News, May 17, 2007). There are many unintended consequences.
How do changing demographics affect instruction? California is a harbinger. A Los Angeles elementary school teacher described the challenges her students bring into the classroom Immigration and Schools, Part 2: The Classroom. Below two veteran teachers from California describe how instruction is affected: 

Slighted “Other Kids”

In “Cheating Our Children” (, April 1, 2005), Lodi, California adult English teacher Joe Guzzardi airs the views of a Lodi primary school teacher:
“I have to spend 30 minutes daily for EL [English Learner] lesson plans . . . Then there’s my bulletin board that has to be devoted to multicultural themes and diversity awareness . . . God forbid that some administrator come in unannounced and my bulletin board isn’t up to snuff . . .
“...we have regular nerve-racking reviews by government agencies to ensure that EL lessons are
being properly taught, that my classroom reflects multicultural sensitivity and that the reams of paperwork I am forced to maintain are in order . . . The students are regularly ‘pulled out’ of class for testing to evaluate their progress. Since few of them speak English at home, progress is often slow. This means I have to backtrack and start over.
“About ten years ago, we learned that we had to become certified in cross-cultural instruction or risk losing our jobs. We had to take English Language Development classes and two years of a second language . . . I often ask myself, what for? Many parents have minimal involvement. The families frequently move from one district to another and never set down roots.
“The other kids - Ammericans and legal immigrants - need help too, but there just isn’t the time. If I slight them, no one would really notice. But if I ignore the ELs, my job will be at stake.” 

Dirt Ate My Lunch

A Los Angeles 4th grade teacher sent me her daily schedule: 
“Starting with the new school year, our school will be piloting a new ESL [English as a Second Language] program, Into English , 30-45 minutes/day, mandatory for all third graders, to be expanded the following years into all elementary grades. LAUSD has hired ‘coaches’ and ‘trainers’ to oversee implementation of the new program . . . here’s what the bureaucrats have decided our school day will look like:
“8:00 - 8:15 - Assembly and Morning Business
“8:15 - 8:45 - ESL
“8:45 - 10:20 - Open Court Reading [a highly-scripted, widely-used reading series]
“10:20 - 10:40 - Recess
“10:40 - 12:00 - Continue Open Court Reading
“12:00 - 12:40 - Lunch
“12:40 - 1:00 - ...this is where I used to have the students engage in ‘Silent Sustained Reading’ (sometimes, the only time all day they read silently, because a lot of them don’t read, or have books, or silence, for that matter, at home). HOWEVER . . . SSR has been banned, because our Reading Coaches informed us that ‘a new research study has shown that silent, independent reading is not a worthwhile activity.’ I couldn’t possibly be making this up! Anyway, what is it that adults do when they go home . . . I suppose you’ve probably found that silent, independent reading is a worthless activity, too, right?
“12:40 - 1:40 - Math
“1:40 - 2:20 - physical education, social studies, science, art, and music. Oh, and they want us to spend 20 minutes a day on a counseling program called ‘Second Step,’ which works on empathy, attitudes, and impulse control.” 

Worst Part

[Below the teacher describes problems that subtract from instructional time: weekly ‘professional development’ sessions “that bore teachers senseless,” school assemblies, transition problems, etc., but, for her... ] 
The worst part of this: EVERYONE participates in the wretched Into English program, including English-only speakers! . . . The wonderful ‘coaches’ are demonstrating lesson plans at our school this week and next. Example: What is a ‘river’? Let’s make a graphic organizer of what you see at the river. (How is a kid just out of Mexico supposed to learn English by making a graphic organizer? Why wouldn’t you just show them a picture?)
The other horrible thing is the dumbing down of our culture. Instead of exposing the kids to timeless classic fables, myths, and fairytales, or great music and poetry, they are going to learn to chant rhymes such as ‘Dirt ate my lunch.’ Just wonderful.”  


“Too many, too quickly, from one place,” a remark by military historian, California farmer and Mexifornia author Victor Davis Hanson, opened this series on immigration and schools. Hanson was speaking of the effects of recent immigration on American society, but he could have been referring to the effects on America’s schools. Indifferent enforcement of immigration laws by our politicians has put assimilation at risk. It has put the education of the children of American citizens at risk. We are indeed cheating our children.
After long years of dutiful service to special interests that profit from open borders - the U.. S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Council of La Raza (the Race) and the like, the President and Congress are hearing from a public that thinks like Hanson.  
True, a path-to-citizenship (amnesty) for illegal aliens is embraced by the President, many in Congress and, of course, the press. But as the toll for Washington’s negligence becomes clearer: the cost to education, healthcare and prison systems, local and state budgets, the environment and, not least, the social fabric, the public is giving Congress a different message: Amnesties beget more illegal immigration.
The public interest is now a contender against the special interests and elites who have had unchallenged control of immigration policy for decades. There is hope.
Tom Shuford  is a retired teacher living in Lenoir, North Carolina. This article was originally published in, January, 2007.
Tom Shuford
2011 May 12