Normally I try to keep all my posts within relation to my grandmother, and in a way, this post sort of does come back to her. For ten years, my grandmother's job was as a teacher's aid at one of NJ's only bilingual elementary schools. This is a unique job to hold. Not only because of the school's rarity, but it was an integral job with such a minor title. Many of the Latin Americans on the east coast--in the NJ/NY/PA--are Puerto Rican, and to have someone in the classroom that comes from humble beginnings and with good intentions, was such an important thing to many of the parents. Lots of the systems in the US are hard to understand, let alone navigate, and though my grandmother was only labeled a 'teacher's aid,' the service she did connected parents and their children through the classroom, and that's an important job.
The real issue is bilingual education, which is a hot topic in light of all the immigration talks going on these days. The typical argument from opposition claims that there shouldn't be money expended on teaching bilingually when in the good ol' US of A, we speak English. Then again, there are more moderate approaches to the topic, and then of course there are some hyper liberal agendas out there, too. But perhaps the basic thing to consider is this: regardless of your stance on immigration or how strongly you feel about English being the 'official' language of the US, it doesn't change the fact that one of the most widely spoken languages in the world is Spanish, not to mention that it's spoken almost as much as English is in this country.
One argument says that if bilingual education is enforced, less time will be spent on English as a main focus. Here is one supporter's response:
Whatever argument is made against integrating bilingual education is made, it's clear that the advantages outweigh any perceived disadvantages. High schools and colleges already have language requirements, and the whole world is mixing--studies show that those with bilingual capacities have a stronger chance in the workforce, as well. Overall, you'd have to be uninformed or somewhat immigrant-phobic to think that bilingual education is a detriment, instead of what it is: an important addition.