NJ For Change

Friday, March 03, 2006

Handicapping Children from the Beginning

Hunterdon County ranked number one out of all 21 New Jersey counties when comparing 13 measures of child health, safety, education and the overall well-being of children. Cumberland, Cape May, Atlantic, Salem and Passaic were the five lowest ranking counties, while Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Bergen and Sussex got the highest scores according to a New Jersey Kids Count report.

Cumberland County ranked last, No county had a higher rate of teenage pregnancy or infant mortality, according to the study. None scored worse on standardized tests, with Cumberland's students placing 21st on the third-, fourth-, eighth- and 11th-grade exams. But, Cumberland County had the highest percentage of children enrolled in state-approved preschool programs. So much for the effectiveness of the $12,000 a year state funded pre-school programs.

Here’s why. The children are falling behind in school because many of them don’t speak English. Rather than immersing them in English only classes from the beginning, the state handicaps them with “bilingual classes”.

Tony Melendez of the Family Power Center, a recent start-up, based in Vineland said “Cumberland's poor ratings reflect, in part, the huge recent influx of Mexican immigrants. Many of the first generation immigrants don't speak English. Many dropped out of school at an early age.”

“The language is a major barrier,” said Melendez, who spent 27 years in investigative and other roles with the state Division of Youth and Family Services. “If the parent doesn't understand the language, they cannot teach it. It's the kids who take bilingual classes, not the parents.”
Bilingual education is a dooming these children to failure in school and poverty in adult life. Bilingual ed is a bonanza for teachers and a disaster for taxpayers and most of all for children who never receive a proper education. This needs to change.
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