Beyond Race, Class and Religion; English Literacy Should Be Job No. 1

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 6, 2007 | Go to article overview

Beyond Race, Class and Religion; English Literacy Should Be Job No. 1


Byline: Deborah Simmons, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

I had to laugh to keep from crying yesterday, when the following statistics from the Commission on No Child Left Behind popped into my e-mail box: "Since 1994, the number of English language learners in U.S. schools has grown from 2 million to 3 million students in 2000 and to 5 million students today. This represents a 65 percent increase in the English language learner population since 1994."

Now I know that by "English language learners" the commission means students for whom English is not their native language, but let's be real. While local governments, educrats and the unenlightened continue to make it a top priority for people from other lands to "learn" English, what about the children whose American roots run as deep as a Live Oak?

Look at English literacy another way. When I was visited Israel, Cairo, Ghana and Uganda in recent years, I always made a point of visiting schools, and was utterly delighted to speak with children who spoke multiple languages. They spoke English, of course, but also, because of colonialism, they spoke French, Hebrew, German, Arabic, Dutch and tribal or regional dialects. Yet, here in American, we've allowed the functional-illiteracy rate in the nation's capital to rise to 36 percent. (God almighty help us if we have to revert to signatures of X's.)

Every language has distinctive beauty and perfect idiosyncrasies, and English is no different. And where would America be without the huddled masses that came here to be free?

The literacy problem grows because the common national identity American English seemingly is a priority no more. We teach Vietnamese children in their language, Latinos in Spanish. What in heaven's name are we teaching American children?

How shameful in a country that once enacted laws that prohibited slaves from reading. For generations, blacks utilized the Bible as a language instructor. And it wasn't just blacks either. Scots, Irish and Italians depended on the Bible, too, and not just for nourishing the soul.

We have a moral obligation to educate our young so that the next generation is better off than the current one. We have fallen way short of that responsibility and, in some instances, have actually moved backward. In D.C., for example, students used to take courses in foreign languages French, Spanish, Latin, Russian in high school, but often beginning in elementary school. Today, students learning a foreign language are from other continents but being taught English. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beyond Race, Class and Religion; English Literacy Should Be Job No. 1
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.