Two weeks ago…I was sitting in a movie theater next to a middle-aged white lady when out of nowhere we start a conversation. It began with the topic Chicago in general, to the University of Chicago grad school, then she pointed out that I have a slight Mexican accent, which led her to ask me, but not before cautioning me if I easily get offended. She asked, "What do you think about bi-lingual education in the public school system?" Right before I could even respond to her question, she gave me her thoughts…she said, "I don't understand why there are so many illegals that come here and then we have to cater to their needs. If they want to be Americans then they should be FORCED to learn English instead of spending millions on the extra classes for these illegals..." She was a public school teacher in Chicago, before she quit because of the issue.
During her spill all I could think of is my dear friend Maria Mendoza, who I worked with in Washington, DC, and who worked passionately on Capitol Hill w/Senator Bingaman (New Mexico) and the office of SAMSA pushing these issues to increase the program and assist Latinos. As interns I was with Maria when I was 20, and she was 18 and already a junior in college…arguing with Tom Ridge [Director of Homeland Security] from the middle of the audience on a conference held at the library of Congress, pertaining to placing the military on the border. We sat among prominent Senators, Congressmen, and the minutemen who lobbied for the issue…she is one the bravest woman I've personally known. She would have tore that lady up with a debate…not to mention Maria is currently attending one of the top 10 law school in the country, so her arguments are phenomenal. Nonetheless, I did my best to address the question poised to me, having little knowledge of the topic other than the basic economics that could be applied at the moment to expand this white lady's ignorance.
Bi-lingual education is simple social welfare…in conjunction with international trade and country specialization. In essence, one can look at countries as multi-platform seesaw. The balance of powers (monetary, diplomatic) shifts from one to the other over years. For example, currently the Euro is greater than the Dollar…eventually that strength in the Euro will shift to perhaps back to the dollar or to other countries' currency like the Yen (Japan), because of the expense in doing trade with the European Union. The point is, people pursue power…and preventing that strength from being elastic is inevitable. Thus, American businessmen are significantly investing in China and India because of the potential of those countries becoming super-powers in the world economy in 60 years. Americans are learning Cantonese and/or Hindi. However, we are referencing the upper percentage of Americans who have the will and investment to learn these languages.
Most illegals come here with the simple goal to live…to survive compared to the disordered country they come from. Thus, they will do any job just to make ends-meet, including jobs Americans don't want. There are two schools of thoughts that are applied in this situation. One, the upper percentage of Americans feel their tax dollars are going to support the welfare of illegals. Two, the equal or lower percentage of the population accuse immigrants of stealing jobs from them. On a side note pertaining to the latter, it us difficult to understand why someone is able to risk their life and walk hundreds of miles and get a job, where those same people who accuse immigrants of stealing job from them can not take a bus ride to the unemployment office and get something, which is why I don't empathize with many homeless American's, but that's another issue. What some people don't understand is that if it weren't for immigrants, then America would experience a brain strained economy…meaning that since so many kids are going to college now a days, it wouldn't be uncommon for a college degree individual to be picking strawberries because the economy would be top heavy. It would be difficult to imagine a Yale graduate willfully picking cotton at 3 dollars a bushel, 7 bushels a day, 6 days a week ($126 a week) with no benefits just to put food on the table.
In retrospect, bi-lingual education shouldn't be viewed as a hindrance of the American economy, considering Bush wants 1billion more for the War on Iraq, but more so as a tool to better equip the working class. If the American economy wants a progressive system then it would continue to fund these programs…without doing so would stymie the economy because immigrants would not be able to assimilate as quickly or perhaps at all.
I asked that lady, if she had ever been or had a tutor during her own education or if her grandkids were faced with the prospect of immigrating to another country because the US became a dismal power in 80 years. She just smiled, and said nothing more. There is more detail that can be expanded based on the economics, pros and cons, of immigration…but it's way too much for a myspace blog. Nonetheless, the idea has been in my head for a while now since my discussion with the lady. Ironically, we were just about to watch the movie, "In the pursuit of Happyness."