May 29, 1998
As a demographically diverse and multilingual country, the United States' main asset is its people. The cultural and linguistic diversity of the United States is one of its most valuable advantages in the globalization of the world's economy and international understanding. Its rich variety of peoples and cultures makes it the envy of the world. As immigrants from across the world, especially from Spanish-speaking countries, continue to make the United States their new home, this linguistic and cultural diversity will continue to pose this country as a microcosm of our global village. This is why bilingual education must be recognized as a priority to ensure that our future work force is educated and trained accordingly.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), representing over 200 colleges and universities across the nation, is adamantly opposed to any changes to or elimination of Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) until Congress thoroughly examines how limited English proficient children are currently served by our nations schools. In addition, we urge the federal government to empower our schools to provide equity in education to limited English proficient students.
It is pertinent that our schools teach limited English proficient children in their home language the content areas while they learn English simultaneously, so that the United States does not condemn generations of future Americans to a decrease in educational attainment and future employment and training prospects.
The elimination of bilingual education would hurt the economy in the long term and standards of living of all Americans by making its work force less competitive. HACU strongly believes the elimination of bilingual education could set up hundreds of thousands of children for school failure.
HACU, as the voice of Hispanic Americans in higher education, is keenly aware of the potential and harmful impact of that elimination of bilingual education represents for the nation. At a time when the national and world economies demand grater ability in languages and cultures other than English and Western European, lowering the standards or restricting the scope of bilingual education also would irreparably hurt the economic future of the nation. It is incumbent upon each and every American to ensure their voices are heard in support of increasing education attainment of Hispanic and other language minority children. This way, we can ensure that our children are prepared to succeed in the next millennium.
HACU represents over 200 colleges and universities with high Hispanic student enrollment rates in the United States, Puerto Rico, and abroad.