In 1914, President Theodore Roosevelt stated, "We have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house."
Last week, the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected arguments that English-only exams violate a federal requirement that limited-English-speaking students "shall be assessed in a valid and reliable manner." Nearly 1.6 million students in California have limited command of the language, according to a OneNewsNow article. The court of appeals, in a three-to-zero ruling, upheld a San Francisco judge’s decision that ruled against the bilingual-education group in his 2007 decision.
The lawyer for the school district, Marc Coleman stated that they are considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court. But Aloysius Hogan, a spokesman for English First, thinks that due to the solid three-to-zero ruling this would be a tough challenge.
Last week, I had the privilege of introducing a ten year old Ukrainian boy to a group of school children. This young man was adopted by a couple last December and knew absolutely no English when he arrived aside from “hello, yes, no, and mommy and papa.” The day of the assembly, he spoke in very good English to a group of children his age and fielded the questions that these children had for him about the orphanage he had lived in and about Ukraine. His native tongue is Russian and he had been learning to read Russian. Here in his new home, he had to learn a new alphabet and is now reading very well for only being here for eight months.
Credit goes to his parents, I am sure, for their dedication in helping him learn the language so quickly. But this young man has had a much more difficult life than most children ever experience in the United States and is already putting the majority of bi-lingual children and adults to shame.
If an orphan child can come to a new land, learn a new alphabet, learn to read and speak in English, in eight months, then why can’t a high school or any elementary school child do the same? I would suggest that there is laziness and a lack of care. The examples these children have at home demonstrate arrogance for not adopting the language that defines America and its heritage. There is no reason other than laziness and pride that keeps individuals back from learning the language of the land. With effort, the lives of the adults and children who do not have a command of the language would improve by making it easier to live in a country with a single language, making it easier to be neighborly and do day to day tasks in the community.
I agree with the Court's decision and believe that pressure needs to be applied to the homes of non-English speakers, holding them responsible for getting their children ready for the world. It is not the government’s job, but rather the individual who chooses to live in the United States of America.