Los Angeles Catholic Diocese Promotes Bilingualism, Not Assimilation

In former Governor Richard Lamm’s ironic opinion piece, “I have a plan to destroy America”, item #1 on his list of sabotage actions is to make the country bilingual:

We must first make America a bilingual-bicultural country. History shows, in my opinion, that no nation can survive the tension, conflict and antagonism of two competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. One scholar, Seymour Martin Lipset, put it this way: “The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon – all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with its Basques, Bretons and Corsicans.”

Below is a kindergarten class in Mesquite, Texas, which is described as “bilingual.” However, a close look at the alphabet on the wall reveals that it is Spanish, not English.

America is afflicted with a multitude of diversity hustlers, who think that national sovereignty and culture are what’s wrong, rather than the protectors of all we value. Perhaps the diversity blowhards haven’t heard of Czech President Vaclav Klaus’ declaration that “you cannot have democratic accountability in anything bigger than a nation state.”

One of America’s many domestic antagonists is the Catholic church, which benefits greatly from this country’s laws that protect religion, and the government doesn’t even tax the churches. Nevertheless, the Vaticrats promote open borders just like a political party (against nonprofit tax laws) and promote Mexican separatism among its immigrant and illegal alien parishioners.

In behaving this way, church elites insult their American members, a majority of whom want immigration laws enforced, according to a 2009 Zogby poll.

Even so, the Catholic church in Los Angeles is promoting bilingualism rather than immigrant assimilation in its densely hispanic diocese. The diocese recently got a real Mexican as a bishop to replace Roger Mahony, a friend of pedophile priests and illegal aliens.

L.A. diocese opens bilingual schools, Sacramento Bee, Jun. 5, 2011

LOS ANGELES – The Valencia-Fragas household is a mix of cultures and languages embodied in 3-year-old Adan Fragas.

“How do you say blue in Spanish?” Adan’s mother, Edith Valencia, asks him, pointing to a bright blue train in a picture book.

“Azul,” he answers quickly. Then, he looks around the room, waves and says, “Hi.”

Adan speaks English with his father, who is of Hawaiian descent, and Spanish with his mother, whose heritage is Mexican.

That ease with both languages pleases Valencia. When Adan is ready for kindergarten, she wants him to attend one of the first dual language immersion campuses in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles – St. Joan of Arc Dual Language Academy in West Los Angeles. There, he will learn to read, speak and write in English and Spanish.

St. Joan of Arc and All Souls in Alhambra, both closed due to declining enrollment, will reopen this fall as the first dual language schools in the archdiocese. Though not new in public education, such programs are rare in Catholic schools. If they are successful, they could become a model.

“It’s part of who we are, our culture,” Valencia said of the Spanish her parents spoke to her after they had migrated as teenagers to Los Angeles from Mexico.

“I’m close to my roots even though I didn’t grow up in Mexico. I know where my parents came from. … It’s something you can easily overlook and forget. But it’s part of who we are and who he is,” she added.

Both schools will offer English and Spanish in kindergarten. All Souls also will offer an English/Mandarin program. The diocese will add new grade levels each year.

“We’ve got to be sure to have kids who are truly bilingual and biliterate,” said Kevin Baxter, superintendent of elementary schools in the archdiocese.

The region’s demographics drove the decision, he said.

“Spanish is obviously a natural for us here in Los Angeles,” Baxter added.

Los Angeles isn’t the only archdiocese making the move to dual language education. The Archdiocese of Baltimore opened its first dual-language elementary school last fall, and Catholic scholars have made such programs a goal.

Dual language learning helps Catholic schools with recruiting and retaining Latino students – a challenge as schools became more tuition-driven and programs did not respond culturally and linguistically to diversity, said Martin Scanlan, assistant professor of education at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Scanlan said the new programs may be bellwethers of what is to come in Catholic education. “It’s a strong move by the diocese,” he said.

Dual language programs require diligence, experts said.

A balance of speakers of each language is essential to avoid domination by one group, said Rosalie Pedalino Porter, a former bilingual teacher on the board of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. In addition, parents must realize that some students initially may not read at grade level.

“In the long term, they will be ahead of their classmates because they will be competent in two languages,” she said.

Meanwhile, dual language education in public schools is growing, said Julie Sugarman, research associate at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C. The center’s database lists 386 two-way immersion programs, but there are more, Sugarman said.

For St. Joan of Arc, the transition will change the parish school to a language academy under the guidance of the archdiocese with a citywide reach, said Janina Brzechwa-White, chairwoman of St. Joan of Arc’s board.

“We are going very far beyond our parish boundaries in terms of recruitment,” Brzechwa-White said.

She said families seeking out the school include some with a Spanish-speaking heritage and others who see the business value of learning Spanish.

To help with the transition, school officials have been working with Olga Moraga, assistant director of bilingual education at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Moraga said finding bilingual teachers who can communicate with children who initially do not understand one of the languages is critical.

“They have to make that content comprehensible to the students,” Moraga said. “They have to use pictures or motion or any kind of strategies to make sure the student is understanding what they’re saying. It’s a lot more work.”

Learning Mandarin or Spanish will not come at the expense of mastering English, said Thomas Delgado, All Souls’ board member and a retired principal for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“The students need to have the strongest English language skills,” Delgado said.

Valencia, an accounting specialist, said a dual language school will suit her son Adan because she knows becoming bilingual early is helpful in life. She often has been the only bilingual person at work.

“It’s been extremely beneficial to me in my career,” she said. “It’s a very important aspect of living in L.A.”

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