Re the two March 17 letters regarding the Spanish language:
I thought maestro de ano was a real knee-slapper! I certainly agree with Dr. Paula Rodriguez that you should cease insulting the Spanish speakers of the area. After all, how must they feel to have to live and/or work in Mar-ti-NEZ!
In a more serious vein, I would like to enter my vote on the side of those who disapprove of the increased emphasis on teaching Spanish in our schools. Spanish as a second language for English speakers is certainly logical. Teaching Spanish to Spanish-speaking immigrants, legal or illegal, however, is certainly not necessary. What Spanish they may need can be learned at home with their parents. Meanwhile, they will be learning English on a day-to-day basis merely by attending school and associating with others who speak the language.
I speak from experience. As a child growing up in Pennsylvania many years ago, I went to a four-room, elementary school in which four teachers each taught two grades. Each room usually had six rows of 4 to five students, three rows to a grade. The teacher of grades 7 and 8 was also the principal.
Of roughly 100 to 120 students, about a 20- to 25 percent lived in The Hollow, a coal-mining community about a quarter of a mile away. These were nearly all children of immigrants from eastern Europe, mostly Poles, Hungarians and Serbs, whose parents spoke very little or no English.
These people had come to the United States in the early 1920s, just after World War I. Despite that, the kids spoke just as good, unaccented English as the rest of us because we went to school together and played together. Baseball, football, basketball, marbles and other games were played during the school year and, In the summertime, we dammed up the streams and swam together!
In the six years I went there, we all passed the semiannual and annual school examinations. If you didnt pass, you didnt get promoted. Only one was unable to make the grade. Mike Guny was 15 years old, a slow learner and still in the fourth grade when I started in the third. That was Mikes last year in school and I often wonder what happened to him.
In those days, if you didnt pass, you didnt get promoted. When you reached age 16, you were out! Oh, yes, I should mention that despite his learning problems, Mike still spoke English like the rest of us!
If the school system I attended then would have tried to do what is being proposed today for the Spanish among us, it would have involved the teaching of at least three languages in addition to English!
Obviously, no one ever thought to suggest such a solution because it wasnt feasible, workable or even necessary.
Perhaps, a better solution to todays problem would be to teach English to the parents!
Teaching Spanish to children who already speak Spanish will eventually result in the replacement of English as the language of the United States. If you dont believe that, just consider the recent huge increase in the number of products sporting labels and directions in both English and Spanish. Not to mention the increasing number of bilingual instructions for various applications, etc. Given the continued influx of illegals from south of the border plus a native-American birthrate (Im not talking American Indians) barely keeping up with the mortality rate, how long do you think it will it be before Spanish displaces English as the language of our country?
In the old days that some of us can still remember, immigrants were proud to become Americans and did everything possible to learn the English language and thereby become better naturalized citizens. We sorely need some of that spirit today.
Wake up America - and, especially, Columbia County!
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