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sociopolitical implications of the bilingual education and Latino civil rights

Bilingual Education and Latino Civil Rights


         While the population of language minority children in the nation makes up a substantial part of the student population, and continues to grow, their educational civil rights have come under increasing scrutiny and attack over the past decade. All students have the right to be provided access to content area knowledge. Bilingual education, or teaching through the native language, has been an important technique for providing that right to English language learners. However, the use of this educational technique has been increasingly criticized and eroded over the past ten years. To look at this broad issue, I will examine the history of civil rights for language minority children, the assumptions behind the attack on bilingual education, and suggest responses to safeguard the rights of language minority students.
       
         The number of English language learning (ELL) students in the U.S. has grown dramatically in the last decade. According to a 1991 national study, there are over 2,300,000 students in grades K through 12 who are English language learners (August & Hakuta, 1997). This number has grown by over 1,000,000 since 1984. The majority of these students are Spanish-speakers (73%), followed by Vietnamese-speakers (3.9%). Because the overwhelming proportions of ELL students are Spanish speakers, the issue of bilingual education is largely a Latino one. No other language group makes up more than 4% of limited English proficient students. What complicates the issue of education for language minority students is their low socioeconomic status. 80% of ELL students are poor, and most attend schools where the majority of students also live in poverty and are English language learners. There is some difference in the level of poverty among language groups. Here, again, Latinos are disproportionately represented: 57% of Spanish-speaking families earn less than $20,000 compared to, for example, only 35% of families where Asian/Pacific Island languages are spoken (McArthur, 1993). Poverty has many implications for educational achievement, for example, parents' educational attainment mirror income levels, and parents' educational achievement is highly linked to that of their children's.
            Despite the high number of ELL students, it is difficult to know, because of lack of data to see what type of educational programs they participate in. According to Prospects, a 1995 national survey, reading and math were taught in programs using bilingual education in less than half of first and third grade classrooms serving limited English proficient students. Offered more frequently were programs where instruction was offered only in English, or where instructional aides, not teachers, were the vehicles for native language instruction. Conclusions about participation rates in different programs vary; another study suggests that 33% of ELL students nationwide are enrolled in ESL or immersion programs, while 57% receive some native language instruction, from either a teacher or an instructional aide (Fleischman, & Hopstock, 1993).
            More is known about program availability in California than nationwide. While doubt over what makes up bilingual education also exists at the state level, it appears that less than a third of California's ELL children receive bilingual education, therefore somewhat less than nationwide. Of these, the overwhelming majorities, over 95% are Latino. The other 70% of ELL students not participating in bilingual education are in English only programs. Some of these programs use the method "Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English", so as to make content more understandable to students. Others offer only English language development, or a combination of the two programs. Some programs also offer informal support in the native language. However, more than one in five (21%) ELL students in English only programs receive no special services at all, despite state and federal law stipulating that some program must be in place. This brought a concern to my head, that students without the help are stuck in a circle with no one to help.  It appears that Hispanics will continue to dominate the rolls of the limited-English-proficient in classrooms of the twenty-first century (Carger 8).
Bilingual education is a legacy of the "Great Society" programs of the 1960s. During that time, in a symbol to the Latino community, which had been largely overlooked by past civil rights legislation, Congress passed the 1968 Bilingual Education Act, or ... more

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EVALUATING NORTH AMERICAN HEALTH SYSTEMS

INTRODUCTION
Compensating the affairs of economic efficiency with the demands of sociopolitical rights is a constant source of tension in Canada and the United States alike.  In no other element is this tension more apparent than in the group of complex markets we call the health care system.  
Canadians have been fortunate enough to receive a universal health care system for nearly forty years.  This is a single-payer system funded by the governments, both provincial and federal, but at what costs?  Is health care not unlike any other commodity, or is it the privilege of every citizen?  Health care has elements of common economic behavior, however, there are also certain social values associated with it.  It is this struggle of defining what health care is that causes such anxiety among economists.  The Canadian health care system is slowly crippling the economy, and reforms must be devised to preserve the pride of Canada; our health care system itself.  
The pluralistic health care scheme of the United States, as well, has serious socioeconomic implications, and American policy makers are looking toward the model of the Canadian system for answers.  Both the United States and Canada must reform health care policy, but to what extent?  Obviously these questions cannot necessarily yield clear, concise answers, however they will provide insight into analyzing the current and proposed systems of health care.
Certainly if Canada is to maintain a high standard of care it must adopt an economically efficient, revenue generating system.  Moreover the United States must adopt the single-payer system of Canada while still retaining a strong revenue base.  This paper will discuss the strengths and shortcomings of the Canadian health care system, and how health care is a sociopolitical enigma.  Furthermore, how the single-payer system is the only realistic response to the growing inadequacies within the American socioeconomic status.

CANADIAN HEALTH CARE STRUCTURE
Serving as a general background in its appraisal, it is necessary to outline the history and the ambient factors of the Canada health care that is so sought after by the United States.  The Canadian health-insurance program, called Medicare, is administered by provincial governments and regulated and partly financed by the national government.  Medicare pays basic medical and hospital bills for all Canadians, where the governments determine the criterion of basic care, to insure and maintain a standard level of service.  As early as 1919, Canadas Liberal party promised national health insurance, but the first real step was taken in Saskatchewan, where in 1947 province wide hospital insurance was introduced. A national hospital-insurance act followed in 1958, and by 1960, 99% of Canadians were covered by government run hospital insurance.   Saskatchewan was again the first in 1961 to introduce medical-care insurance which covered doctors services as well.  However, this was not an easy transformation.  In 1962 when the medical insurance act was implemented, the doctors of Saskatchewan went on strike.  As a part of the settlement the government agreed to a modified plan that addressed some of the doctors grievances.  Despite the opposition from provinces, doctors and insurance companies, national Medicare legislation was in place by 1967, and today health care is a constitutional right.  
The arrangement reached by all provinces by 1972 was that the federal government paid half the cost of the provincial plans, provided the plans met five principles:  accessibility, universality of coverage, portability from province to province, comprehensiveness of service, and government administration.   Under the system the health care provider bills the provincial plan directly.  The Canadian Health Act, effective in 1984, clarified the national standards and may penalize provinces that allow doctors to bill for more than the Medicare rate.  
The Canadian provinces spend a third of their budgets on health and hospitals.  High-tech medicine and an aging population have caused Canadas medical costs to rise significantly over the past decade.   Increasingly, governments attempt to control costs by promoting personal fitness, cutting back the number of hospital beds and establishing caps on doctors earnings.  The costs have become so overwhelming some provinces have considered revoking coverage of prescription drugs for seniors, optometry, physiotherapy, and chiropractic treatments.  There are no doubt different views regarding spending for health care, however, few wish to revert to a free market ... more

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