After ‘The Bilingual Education Act’ passed the House of Representatives to help the education of the immigrants’ children in 1968, bilingual education has become an important part of American immigration policy. These days, there has been a lot of controversy about this program, and it has faced difficulties such as securing capable teachers and financial problems. Bilingual education, however, has great significance in American society. It is an important policy culturally and for protecting constitutional rights. There are two logical explanations for this.
First, bilingual education is important because it gives importance to all cultures in American society and making American culture plentifully. Critics of bilingual education claim that it breaks down American culture and values and triggers division, but this criticism is based on an idea that the U.S should have only Anglo-Saxon culture. The U.S is composed of diverse racial groups and many people immigrate into the country continually. The 2010 Census found that about 27% of the population was non-white. The U.S is a salad bowl of different cultures. Bilingual education was started in the 1970s to promote cultural diversity. In other words, bilingual education allows immigrants to study their language and culture positively and to have their own cultural identity. It is also an opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of different cultures. American culture should be founded on cultural diversity.
Also, we can see the necessity of bilingual education in the constitutional law. Even though it is certainly said that studying English can unite citizens, that it makes them the part of their nation, bilingual education is for offering equal educational opportunities to immigrant’ children. There is a famous example. In 1964, although a Chinese American child could not read and write English, he was forced to attend classes that were taught in English only. The court decided that this was against the equal educational opportunities promised by the Civil Rights Act. From this case, we must remember that forcing children who cannot speak English to study only in English is a burden on them. Children whose native is not English have many difficulties when studying in a public school that only offers classes in English. The U.S has protected civil rights very strictly. Bilingual education is designed to ensure that citizens receive their constitutional right to equal education.
Nowadays, bilingual education has become more important than the past because of globalization and the ‘Salad Bowl’ idea of American society. People whose native language is not English need bilingual education in order to have an opportunity to preserve their culture and to receive equal education. It is not right to rob them of the chance to have an identity and study freely. Bilingual education has the potential to make American society more tolerant of different people and cultures. Today, we cannot focus on only our own nation: we should understand the people and culture of other nation. Bilingual education is the big step in this direction.
by Jeawon Moon