In New York, children from other countries are supposed to learn English via magic. That's about all I can conclude from the mandates that have been issued by Merryl Tisch and her gang of geniuses up there. Since I started teaching ESL, beginning students have been entitled to three periods a day of instruction in English language. Because Merryl knows better, now they only need one period per day.
The other two periods can be math, social studies, chemistry, or pretty much whatever. The teacher of those classes will pick up the magical 12 credits of ESL cheap via NYSUT or UFT, and then magically teach not only chemistry, but also English! And this magic teacher will do both those things in the same time it takes all the other teachers to teach the American kids! Because it doesn't matter whether the kids know a lick of English, whether we teach them a lick of English, or even whether they want to learn English. Once that magic teacher gets those 12 magic credits, all those problems will simply disappear.
And even better news--once the kids become high beginners, they only need to study English half of the time. And once they hit intermediate, they don't need to study English anymore at all! Do you see the beauty of that? The magic teachers, with no extra time, will teach them not only how to pass that troublesome Global Regents exam, but also basic conversation, listening skills, and reading and writing. And they will do this while covering the same textbook and giving them the same assessments that kids who've lived here all their lives take.
Not only that, but in New York, we've overcome a basic tenet of language acquisition, i.e., the older you are the harder it is to acquire a language. In fact, after puberty, the ability to acquire language drops precipitously. But that doesn't matter in New York, because anyone with the magic twelve credits can squeeze English out of the most reluctant individuals. It won't matter if they've been dragged here from China kicking and screaming. It won't matter if they've left their families and friends behind. It won't matter if they've missed years of formal education. It will make no difference if they are illiterate in their first languages.
Once people take those magic twelve credits, they will overcome these and all other obstacles via sheer grit. They will impose rigor on these kids, and with rigor and grit the English language will be no obstacle whatsoever. Sure, when they go to college and know little or nothing about English structure or usage they will have to take costly remedial courses to learn what they could have learned in high school. Sure, they will be unable to actually pass tests that are wildly inappropriate. Sure, they will spend extra years trying to graduate, and schools will be penalized, closed, put into receivership, and whatever.
But the important thing is we'll have all those magic teachers, and all those magic credits, and New York will be a magical place to learn English. Because if you can't learn English via magic, you just haven't got any grit. Just ask Merryl Tisch. She's just full of grit.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.