January 2012

Shh… Don’t Mention Education

January 2012 Cover

As we’re entering a Presidential election year, we thought it would be interesting to compare the prospective candidates’ positions on language education. Despite several requests, none of the candidates were prepared to spell out their position on the political hot potato of bilingual education, or even the less contentious subject of funding world language education. It’s hardly surprising, seeing as education has been largely ignored by most of the frontrunners.

However, much can be gleaned from past positions and current manifestos:

Back in 2000, Newt Gingrich suggested replacing multiculturalism with patriotic education, “In the classroom, the very concept of America is under assault. The traditional notion of our country as a union of one people, the American people, has been assaulted by multiculturalism, situational ethics, and a values-neutral model in which Western values and American history are ignored or ridiculed.”
His current manifesto states that “the continued growth of American jobs and American prosperity in a knowledge-based, internet-connected, globally-competitive world will be determined by quality of America’s schools, while calling to “shrink the federal Department of Education,” so that its “only role will be to collect research and data, and help find new and innovative approaches to then be adopted voluntarily at the local level.”

Although Mitt Romney’s official website barely mentions education apart from a section on re-training workers to meet 21st century needs, his track record of positions on issues regarding education is worth analyzing.

The term Romney most often uses when discussing education is “accountability.” He is a proponent of school vouchers on a wide-scale level, and is open about his desire for all students – regardless of their ethnicity – to be immersed in English-language education.

Romney currently supports the federal government’s involvement in education and would keep in place the No Child Left Behind Act. In a 2007 presidential debate, Romney said that he supports testing in schools and that testing “allows us to get better schools.”

Romney believes that a proper role for government in encouraging economic growth is ensuring that students receive the best education possible. After fostering a highly-educated workforce and lowering taxes, he asserts that the “best thing the country can do is unleash the power of entrepreneurs and get out of the way.”

As to be expected, Ron Paul believes “no nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to children than the family does,” according to his website. He adds, “No big government spending program can or will solve our nation’s education problems. One-size-fits-all central planning simply does not work.”

As a congressman, Paul has been a consistent supporter of homeschooling and has introduced legislation to provide homeschooling parents with a $5,000 per child tax credit.

As for the incumbent, education no longer seems to be a priority for President Obama, and his campaign calls for more bilingual and world language education have not been translated into policy. Sure, he has introduced waivers for NCLB requirements and used ARRA funds to save some education jobs, but his flagship Race to the Top (RTTT) program concentrates more on monitoring schools than funding actual teaching.

Maybe, it’s time for states to seize their constitutional right to design their own educational structures to suit their own demographics, principles, and aspirations.



An Act to Follow
Language Magazine asks the experts what legislation they would like to see enacted during the New Year

Lessons in Quality
Adam Cooke and Nick Sacco explain how the accreditation process is impacting their private language school

Mother Tongue Key to World Education Growth
A bilingual approach not only improves educational outcomes in developing countries but could help close achievement gaps in the U.S.

Taking Teaching to Task
Juan José Vázquez-Caballero on how to create curricula to allow language students to be more engaged, motivated,
and prepared for the real world

California Dreaming
Kristal Bivona swoons over San Diego as a study abroad destination

Celebrating Costa Rica’s Customs
Romy Morales suggests the inclusion of festivals to your itinerary or Spanish culture class

Census Shows Native Languages Count

Last Writes
Richard Lederer and Metaphors Be With You