Protest in Favor of Bilingual Education
From The World
June 10, 2003
Appealing to retain bilingual classes in Seward
Park High School, around 200 people protested in front of City Hall on the afternoon
of June 9. They included City Council members, educators, community leaders, and
teachers, students and parents from Seward Park High School. They held posters
and leaflets reading Bilingual education is a channel for new immigrants
to enter the mainstream society, Only using English in education is
racial discrimination, We will not disappoint your expectations for
bilingual education. The protestors maintained that new immigrants should
be educated regardless of their race and social status.
John Liu pointed out that the purpose of bilingual education is not to teach English,
but to enable students to learn mathematics, geographies, physics and other subjects
in their native languages. Eng Tan-tin, chairperson of the Chinese Consolidated
Benevolent Association of New York, and other community representatives emphasized
the importance of bilingual education for immigrant students and asked the city
Education Department to ensure that it would provide bilingual education to children
of the Chinese-American neighborhoods. Tsu Bien-shu, board member of the National
Association of Bilingual Education, emphasized that Seward Park High School currently
has the largest high school Chinese-English bilingual program in the United States.
She said, It should become the model of bilingual education to serve new
For Zhao Xiao Ting, who is a tenth grade student
at Seward Park High School, the availability of bilingual education is important.
When she was studying in a bilingual class in her ninth grade, her average score
was in the 90s on every subject. Yet, after she was put into the Immersion Program
in tenth grade, because there were too many English vocabularies to be remembered,
my scores suddenly dropped to the 80s. According to her, many of her classmates
failed the class for the same reasons. They were transferred back to the bilingual
class after 26 students complained to the school principle. With bilingual education,
Zhaos scores increased again.
For Zhen Hui Qing, a ninth grade
student from Fuzhou living in the United States for about one year, has a younger
brother studying at M.S. 131. Seward Park is currently not receiving students.
My family is very worried about him. He only speaks a little bit of English. We
dont know whether he can adapt to such circumstances, he said. Shelley
Rappaport, a policy analyst for Hispanic Federation, indicated that high school
students in bilingual education in New York State still had 51.4 percent in 1997,
but now there is only 40.7 percent.
This shows that bilingual education is
gradually disappearing because of the declining governmental funding. And she
said, we now even dont know what bilingual education will be like
According to Tsu-Ying, who is in charge of Asian American
communication for the city Department of Education, acknowledged in an e-mail
that the department understands the necessities of bilingual education for Chinese
speakers learning English and will consider the needs of communities. In addition,
there will be new standards for faculties and curriculums when the school is reorganized.
Park High School Parent-Teacher Association vice-president Zhang Zi-Dong asked
Councilman John Liu to pass on 340-parent letters to the mayor and schools chancellor.
Translated from Chinese by Michael Huang
to The Citizen Page