Learning in Two Languages: From Conflict to Consensus in the Reorganization of Schools

After being off the public agenda for a decade, the subject of bilingual education is once again at the center of public debate. Assumptions about the values of cultural pluralism and the rise of the -unmeltable ethnics- so dominant for the last twenty years have met a renewed public affirmation of the value of assimilation. In the United States -bilingual education- refers to programs that emphasize students' home languages and culture; teach academic subject matter in students' home languages; and introduce English into the curriculum at a deliberate pace. Students in such programs are generally members of immigrant groups and racial and ethnic minorities, and they usually come from lower-class economic backgrounds. Over the years, a number of different objectives have been advanced for bilingual education programs. In the 1960s and early 1970s, educators believed that these programs should be evaluated by students' linguistic proficiency and progress on standardized tests. More recently, advocates have promoted more subjective measures, such as students' enhanced sense of well-being and self-esteem. And yet others argue that the real goals of bilingual education should be social change and economic redistribution, and that programs should be evaluated by these long-range goals. The conference that gave rise to the essays in this volume was the first national symposium at which advocates and critics of bilingual education confronted each other's arguments face-to-face. These essays address the objectives by which bilingual education should be evaluated; the administrative practices by which programs are run; and the latest research findings on the effectiveness of bilingual education. Authors include Henry Trueba, Rudolph Troike, James Banks, Joshua Fishman, and Christine Rossell. Learning in Two Languages will interest educators and policy researchers, students of ethnic relations, and others concerned about the future direction of U.S. educational policies in this controversial area.