Speaking more than one language raises IQ and prevents Alzheimers. Yet I still see education majors saying that bilingualism keeps kids from learning. The truth is that its really an issue of social class. Ladd and Fiske lay it out below.
While I was a graduate student at Rice University a decade ago I saw a group of undergraduate students that had traveled all over the world, done study abroad, had long stays at summer camp, and had taken all sorts of music and art lessons. These are the privileged few. Yet that is our standard for excellence. To open the gate to a superb college education our children need to have these numerous advantages. The reality is that most American children - no matter what race or ethnic group - don't have these experiences - only a few families have the economic ability to send their kids to live in France for a year.
Many more don't even have the regular advantage of having parents who have enough time to have long and rich conversations. The kids also don't go to schools that offer the education and stimulation they need to succeed.
Its not immigration, or parents who refuse to speak English at home. Its the economy and our own moral handicap that prevents us from offering what all children need.
By HELEN F. LADD and EDWARD B. FISKE
Published: December 11, 2011
NO one seriously disputes the fact that students from disadvantaged households perform less well in school, on average, than their peers from more advantaged backgrounds. But rather than confront this fact of life head-on, our policy makers mistakenly continue to reason that, since they cannot change the backgrounds of students, they should focus on things they can control...
International research tells the same story. Results of the 2009 reading tests conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment show that, among 15-year-olds in the United States and the 13 countries whose students outperformed ours, students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts within every country. Can anyone credibly believe that the mediocre overall performance of American students on international tests is unrelated to the fact that one-fifth of American children live in poverty?..
Large bodies of research have shown how poor health and nutrition inhibit child development and learning and, conversely, how high-quality early childhood and preschool education programs can enhance them. We understand the importance of early exposure to rich language on future cognitive development. We know that low-income students experience greater learning loss during the summer when their more privileged peers are enjoying travel and other enriching activities.
Yes, we need to make sure that all children, and particularly disadvantaged children, have access to good schools, as defined by the quality of teachers and principals and of internal policies and practices.
But let’s not pretend that family background does not matter and can be overlooked. Let’s agree that we know a lot about how to address the ways in which poverty undermines student learning. Whether we choose to face up to that reality is ultimately a moral question...for complete article