Growing racial diversity in the U.S. student population is not preventing a spread of segregation, with African American and Hispanic students attending “more segregated schools than at any time in the past 20 years,” notes University of Texas at Austin Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig in his Cloaking Inequity blog post referencing his new co-authored study: “Nearly 50 years post-Jim Crow: Persisting and Expansive School Segregation for African American, Latina/o and ELL students in Texas.”
One finding of the study highlights the risks of language isolation, an issue that drives societal upset in my novel Melting Point 2040:
“Some policies that have been adopted with the intent of improving language acquisition, as in the past, have the effect of increasing linguistic isolation: for example, research has found that school systems that are racially diverse often adopt “clustered bilingual” programs in an effort to best serve the linguistic needs of ELL students. As in the past, a linguistic rationale used by school districts in terms of meeting the needs of ELL has the effect (intentionally or unintentionally) of increasing isolation of ELL students and reducing exposure to native speakers during the school day.”
Creating a melting pot society in which immigrants integrate into the broader community is an important component of creating national stability, longevity and, ultimately, elements of unity. It turns out that integration also improves success rates for individuals integrating into broader society, making the efforts of some to promote racial, ethnic, religious or language segregation as part of self-serving political agendas all the more troubling.
See the link below for more on this study’s findings:
Troubling Segregation Trends Continue
It’s not just in the United States that we find politicians exploiting language differences for partisan advantage. The link below highlights how language differences turn into political division (this time in Canada).
Maintaining a common language and elements of common culture are among the reasons that immigration reform is critical. We want and need to welcome immigrants. But we want those who come here to share a common language as quickly as possible and to learn how our government works (or should work in any case). Both of these happen with legal immigration, but not with many entering illegally.
We want to encourage citizens to be bilingual and trilingual, but a common language contributes to the nation’s stability and longevity. Without it, we have to rely on politicians to not exploit differences. That hasn’t proved workable of late.
Iowa State Associate Professor Warren Blumenfeld argues in the linked column against having a shared national language. He creates a number of spurious assertions that official English:
1) Marginalizes non-native English speakers,
2) Decreases the likelihood of supporting multi-cultural programs, and
3) Suggests that other languages are not important to learn.
The professor recounts the racist behavior of a playground monitor and quotes an unnamed individual that “no true patriot could support or tolerate this hateful law” as evidence of the accuracy of his message against “cultural genocide.”
I think the Professor is missing the point.
America needs to be multi-cultural and multi-lingual; on that he is correct. However, we benefit as a nation by sharing a common language that allows us to communicate effectively with each other. A common language also minimizes the risk of being torn apart. (See other posts on this blog for comments about ongoing secession efforts around the world.) Continue reading
Sharing a common language and some elements of common culture are important to multi-century national survival, particularly in democracies where secession movements can gain political traction. Right now, secession efforts are underway with Barcelona and other Catalan speakers trying to break off from Spain, the Flemish wanting to separate from the French-speaking part of Belgium, Scottish seeking to break from the United Kingdom and many in French-speaking Quebec wanting to separate from the rest of Canada. Still, it’s not always language that drives secession movements. Continue reading