Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kleinspeak Is Universal

We're spending four-and-a-half million bucks a year to ensure that students like mine know all the new educational terms. That's for forty translators, and they've got every little nuance down, apparently:

In an earlier life, Xin Meng chased stories as a reporter for a Chinese-language newspaper in New York. Now he spends his days figuring out how to translate mysterious phrases like “empowerment school” and “English language learner” into Chinese.

I've no doubt he's great at it. Still, he should be translating phrases like, "Your child is studying in a half-classroom with no insulation, and therefore can hear every sound from the adjacent classroom." Or the ubiquitous, "We're dumping your kids into a trailer in back of the school because you don't speak English and we figure you won't complain." Or the ever-popular, "We're closing your kid's school and eliminating all the language-support programs that used to be in it. Good luck finding someplace else."

Maybe statements like that would incite the parents to get off their butts and demand better for their kids. Or maybe not.

Probably the best place to begin such a project would be with parents of American kids. Now there are a few that are off to a good start, but we've got a long way to go.
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