A Case For Bilingual Education

According to a 2006 report by the Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Culture, Science and Education in France, “[B]ilingual education based on the mother tongue is the basis for long-term success.” Citing many of the known and accepted benefits of bilingualism and biliteracy, the Committee makes the case that bilingual education should be supported whenever possible, to help minorities retain their native language – and moreover increase their potential for higher levels of academic achievement in the process.Concerns that children who grow up with two languages will either fall behind academically because of it, or are at risk of not mastering either language well, have largely been disproved by research, the committee stated.”The language which is the vehicle of instruction has a crucial role in that command of it is the key to classroom communication and consequently to pupils’ acquisition of knowledge. A great deal of research has confirmed that types of education based on the mother tongue significantly increase the chances of educational success and give better results,” they concluded in their report.What is Bilingual Education?Bilingual education programs teach speakers of other languages academic subjects in their native language while gradually transitioning them into English-only classrooms. The majority of these programs in America teach to native speakers of Spanish, Chinese, or Navajo. Bilingual education is different from ESL because ESL programs are meant only to teach speakers of other languages English, while bilingual education programs are meant to encourage further retention and development of the native language while teaching English, enabling the child to develop fluent bilingualism and biliteracy.What are the benefits of Bilingual Education?Bilingual education teachers generally transition students from the bilingual classroom to the English mainstream classroom over a period of 1-6 years. This can be beneficial for one because it allows the students to continue their own academic advancement while learning the dominant language, whereas students who must learn a language and other academic subjects in that language often fall behind. By teaching children academic subjects in their native language while acquiring English, the students learn the language while continuing to progress academically. Furthermore, they become fluent and literate in both languages.Studies have shown that quality bilingual education can be an effective approach for teaching second language learners. Successful programs have found that developing and maintaining the student’s native language does not interfere with English language acquisition, but instead enhance it.The advantages of bilingualism are not highly debated. Some of the advantages plurilinguals have, cited by the Parliamentary Assembly, include:• An enhanced faculty for creative thinking• More advanced analytical skills and cognitive control of linguistic operations• Greater communicative sensitivity in relation to situational factors• Improved spatial perception, cognitive clarity and analytical skillsFurthermore, bilingual programs encourage the preservation of a minority group’s linguistic and cultural heritage. Children who are put into English-only schools from a young age will greatly lose their mother tongue and culture unless it is taught and frequently spoken at home – however it is all too common for second and third generation Americans to lose their heritage language.If the benefits of bilingualism are not highly disputed, why is bilingual education highly disputed?Common arguments and sentiments against bilingual education in America include the following:ImmersionThe argument is that if a person is not totally immersed in the new language, they will not learn it – that immigrant children should be totally immersed in the language and therefore be taught entirely in English right away, instead of learning gradually, because they will not learn as well with a gradual approach. Critics of bilingual education often believe that retaining and developing the first language inhibits the child’s ability to learn English. However, bilingual education supporters maintain that retaining the first language will facilitate learning in the second. Opportunities for immersion, moreover, are all around, whereas quality bilingual education opportunities are not.Insufficient mastery of the English languageSome express doubts about the success of bilingual programs in teaching language-minority students mastery of the English language, citing low test scores and poor reading skills in both English and the native language as a result of the programs. However, low scores can be attributed to the child’s social context more than to the effectiveness of bilingual education, according to the 2006 report by the Parliamentary Assembly.Furthermore, according to a 1987 study commission by the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), children in “properly designed” bilingual education programs learn English quickly and meet grade-level standards in English and mathematics in three to five years. The report used data collected from 25 schools in seven California districts to dispute the claim that bilingual programs slow the acquisition of English and keep children out of the mainstream longer.BiasSpanish as well as other minority languages have not historically been valued as highly as they should be due to prejudice and xenophobia. One and two generations back it was not acceptable for immigrants or natives to speak a language other than English in school, and parents did not teach their children for fear they would not excel or that it would hold them back. This prejudice still haunts us today.FearIn 2010 Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) banned Mexican heritage and cultural study in their high schools. They claimed that the courses were teaching Mexican-American children to resent white Americans and encouraging them to want to overthrow the US government. Although the school was seeing rises in academic achievement, the program was teaching minority students about their culture and not the mainstream one, and so the programs were cut. This closely mimics the battle bilingual programs have faced in America as well.Insufficient research
Moreover, it does not help that research on bilingual education presents its own set of problems. “Research on the effectiveness of bilingual education remains in dispute, because program evaluation studies – featuring appropriate comparison groups and random assignment of subjects or controls for pre-existing differences – are extremely difficult to design,” wrote James Crawford, researcher on bilingual education. Crawford, however, maintains that there is strong empirical support that native-language instruction does not inhibit or slow the acquisition of English, and that well-developed skills in the native language are associated with high levels of academic achievement.A 1997 press release from a committee of the National Research Council formed perhaps a more well-rounded conclusion. They stated that political debates over how to teach children with limited English skills have hampered bilingual education research and evaluation efforts. The committee recommended that research focus on identifying a variety of educational approaches that work for children in their communities based on local need and available resources. And indeed this availability of resources can be a major concern when talking about constructing quality bilingual programs, as well as the scarcity and demand for quality bilingual teachers.”In recent years, studies quickly have become politicized by advocacy groups selectively promoting research findings to support their positions,” said Kenji Hakuta, committee chair and professor of education at Stanford University. “Rather than choosing a one-size-fits-all program, the key issue should be identifying those components, backed by solid research findings, that will work in a specific community.”If bilingualism has an educational advantage, why don’t our schools support this advantage?Another often disregarded advantage of bilingual education in America is that native English-speaking children can enroll and acquire a second language. America is known for being one of the least dual-tri lingual countries in the world, with a bias toward English-only, while most other countries in the world teach many languages from a young age. The interesting thing is that most Americans would recognize the benefits of speaking two or more languages, although bilingual education remains a highly debated topic.Bilingual education programs have the potential to help encourage and support plurilingualism in America and ultimately improve our nation academically.”The view that bilingualism or plurilingualism is a burden on pupils is… incorrect – they are assets,” the 2006 Parliamentary Assembly Committee reported. “‘Strong’ bilingual educational models which aim to equip the future adult with real bi/plurilingual proficiency and, in particular, bi-literacy, have many advantages over ‘weak’ models which treat bilingualism as an intermediate stage between mother-tongue monolingualism and official-language monolingualism rather than as an end in itself.”

Diversifying Revenue Needed for Institutions of Higher Education

Diversifying RevenueToday, institutions of higher education are being encouraged and challenged to think creatively about expanding and developing new revenue sources to support the their short-term and long-term goals. Moody’s Investors Services has outlined in its published reports how every traditional revenue stream for colleges and universities is facing some sort of pressure.Unfortunately, the pressure on all revenue streams and sources is the result of macro-level economic, technological and public opinion shifts, and these changes are largely beyond the control of institutions.The Moody analysts have cautioned that revenue streams will never flow as robustly as they did before 2008. It’s been stated the change will require a fundamental shift in how colleges and universities operate; one that will require more strategic thinking.In their studies, Moody’s notes that colleges and universities will have to rely on strategic leaders that are willing to address these challenges through better use of technology to cut costs, create efficiency in their operations, demonstrate value, reach out to new markets, and prioritize its programs. However, in doing so, many of these efforts may create disputes with faculty members or other institutional constituents, unless they are able to get the collective buy-in that has been the staple of higher education governance. But with goals being established and the evolution taking place as part of the process, hopefully, there will be a more widespread understanding on all sides.Major revenue constraints can be attributed to larger changes in the economic landscape, including lower household incomes, changes and fluctuations in the economic and federal government picture, declines in the number of high school graduates, the emergence of new technologies, and a growing interest in getting the most out of a college education – particularly as it pertains to employment after graduation. A stable fiscal picture and outlook would require improved pricing power, a sustained and truly measured decrease in the unemployment rate, improvements in the housing market, and several years of consistent stock market returns.The traditional higher education model has been disrupted by the ability of massive open online courses, particularly by the legitimization of online education and other technological innovations. In many ways, this has signaled a fundamental shift in strategy by industry leaders to embrace these technological changes that threaten to destabilize the residential college and university’s business model over the long run.There are other related challenges facing higher education: the growing profile of student debt, which has topped $1 trillion nationally, and default rates, and pressure on politicians and accreditation agencies to ensure the value of degrees. In addition, an alarm continues to sound over a potential student loan bubble and the diminishing affordability of higher education.One way for colleges and universities to get students, and their parents, to pay for higher tuition is by demonstrating that the outcomes – including their campus experience, postgraduate employment, graduate school enrollment, and long-term success and happiness – are well worth the tuition and future job pay. Students and their parents want to know, “What am I getting for my investment?” As a result, recruiters have a tougher job “selling” a traditional education with the cost of education continuing to escalate.But the on campus education and living and learning experience are the “door openers.” As I like to say, “We are a product of our environment.” Making the right friends, building relationships with influential professors, administrators, parents and relatives of friends, and fraternity brothers or sorority sisters all get added into the equation of the student’s environment. In retrospect, students may forget or never use half of what they learn, but the connections and friends they make and the experiences they have while in college are priceless.Over 1/3 of the colleges and universities in the nation are experiencing some sort of financial crisis. Many have gone from operating full operating budgets to a comfortable black to a severely red. And cash reserves have dropped, as well as endowments.Without a doubt, the university must find new revenue sources. Attracting more out-of-state and international students is one additional source of revenue for these institutions.We must never lose sight of the fact of the importance of investing in higher education. Educating the young is of primary importance. Devising ways to maximize time and money, such as integrating class projects and research that might result in publication is another alternative to consider.Allowing and/or expanding commercialism on the campus may provide added sources of revenue. Examples could include allowing corporate naming rights to athletic facilities or increased advertising signage inside arenas and stadiums. This may seem drastic and some may even say, “You have to pick your poison” in being creative to increase your revenue streams.Attempting to reduce the university’s “discount rate,” the percentage of the total tuition bill for the entire student body that the university waives to grant financial aid to its students is one possibility. But that can be risky business. Any move to reduce the discount rate potentially upsets an exceedingly delicate balance. Looking to attract families that are able and willing to pay full or near full tuition, while simultaneously making the school accessible to less wealthy students, and hitting the right mark, granting merit aid to lure high-potential students who might later benefit the school and broader community, may be one possibility to work in achieving a better balance among the many factors that feed enrollment. Additionally, stepping-up the fundraising efforts to offset any potential rising discount rate may also be helpful.Another factor to think about is the amount of construction the institution may be having on campus, especially during campus tours, to determine the effect, it may or has caused in any dips in the recruiting process. Even though construction on campus is a sign of growth and improvement, in the short-term it is not always the most attractive thing for students to see and hear on campus, or experience during a campus tour with their parents.Institutions of higher education must also anticipate any approaching demographic shifts. They may have to grapple with an economic and social environment in which more families bargain for the best deals among different schools. If this is the case, the institutions should consider making their best offers up-front first and try to avoid drawn-out negotiations.Students are creating more choices for themselves and they have more access to more choices. The internet makes it easier for students to research and apply to more schools.Some of the private institutions have held back from the tuition-hiking trend, and some have even cut tuition costs in an effort to attract more students. Other schools have taken more unconventional measures, such as freezing tuition, offering three-year degree programs, or giving students four-year graduation guarantees. They are doing this with the goal of increasing enrollment levels that will more than offset the reductions being made, thereby providing more overall revenue without sacrificing the student’s education.But also since the economic downturn, private colleges and universities across the nation have redoubled efforts to cut their operating costs, improve their efficiency, and enhance their affordability in order to stay within reach of families from all backgrounds. You cannot lose sight of that. Making it work has to be done on both ends; cutting costs and increasing revenues.Other strategies that could be considered to increase the enrollment and revenue streams at institutions of higher education could include the following:
Segmenting search to target upper profile students with different messages;
Increasing scholarship levels (while still maintaining net revenue needs);
Targeting out-of-state students or students outside of traditional markets;
Targeting high school honors programs;
Holding a scholarship recognition day;
Stressing off-campus opportunities such as internships and study abroad;
Promoting graduate school placements and outcomes; and
Developing high profile academic majors, pre-professional programs, or new majors and programs to support enrollment growth.
Additional considerations for increasing revenue streams might include:
Review the individual educational programs in-place and revenues provided by each and coverage of direct costs and determine what changes should be made, if any;
Acceleration of the 4 year degree programs into 3 to 3 ½ year programs to save on tuition and utilize it as a marketing tool for recruiting, but do so without short changing the student’s education;
Providing an automatic 2-year graduate scholarship at the university for students who enroll in a 4 year undergrad program and meet and maintain a defined GPA level and other pre-defined standards and goals of the university. Use as a tool for marketing and recruitment;
Having a full-time grant application aid/seeker for the university searching for state and federal funds, as well as working with faculty and staff to develop research projects for funding and using as educational programs for the students;
Establishing joint and cooperative programs with other universities in the US and abroad for recruiting;
Consider an overall re-evaluation of the recruiting process for identifying and “going after” potential students, thereby expanding the horizons and outreach;
Obtaining more exposure on a “national and multi-state” level;
Determine if any new programs should be added, programs dropped, or enhanced and/or expanded;
Develop tools for “presenting a plan” and a “comprehensively designed package” for financing and paying the cost for education;
Reaching-out to alumni and friends for enhanced ways to provide for contributions to the university through annuities, insurance, and other charitable giving techniques and products; and
Developing relationships with corporate sponsors for grants and contributions and placements for graduating students.
ConclusionFor the suggestions mentioned about possible new revenue source considerations to support the institution’s short-term and long-term goals, it will be important to develop predictive financial modeling tools for testing the proposed changes and outcomes to the enrollment levels and the projected effects on the revenue streams and the overall bottom line.In doing all of this we must never lose sight of the fact that education prepares graduates to lead lives of achievement, contribution and meaning. And, as I like to say, “The Students will become a Product of their Environment.”