NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bilingual-Education Teachers Flunking English Tests

August 6, 2003

Massachusetts recently began requiring bilingual-education teachers to pass English-fluency tests to keep their jobs. Teachers who have flunked the test are taking drastic action to address their obvious educational inadequacies -- they are suing their local school districts.

Critics have long contended that rather than easing immigrants into instruction in English, bilingual education is an educational ghetto where students are taught in their native tongues and are kept from learning in English.

In Lowell, Mass., four Cambodian-born teachers who flunked have sued on grounds of discrimination. Failing teachers in other Massachusetts cities are consulting their lawyers, too:

  • In Somerville, Mass., the five bilingual teachers who took the test failed.
  • In Lowell, 22 of 25 teachers failed.
  • In Lawrence, 27 out of 31 teachers failed.

Last November, Massachusetts approved a ballot referendum ditching bilingual education for immigrant children and moving to an English-immersion program instead. The referendum was the brainchild of entrepreneur Ron Unz, who sponsored a similar, successful initiative in California in 1998.

Unz believes that teaching children in English is the best way to teach them English and it gives immigrant kids the tools to succeed in the United States.

Source: Rich Lowry (National Review), "No English Spoken Here,", August 5, 2003.


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