John Derybshire’s Blunderbuss Fires Wide Right

Via Matt Yglesias, NRO’s John Derbyshire is all worked up about dual-language schools where students are taught in two languages in elementary school. But leaving aside the xenophobia there are still a couple of problems with his post. First, there are dual-immersion schools in some other languages so his hysterical fear that these programs are just about the “Hispanicization” of America is silly. Of course, most are in Spanish but that doesn’t really prove much here because long before this latest round of attention to/concern about immigration, Spanish was already a very popular language among students. In fact, Derbyshire misses the real problem with these programs: They’re very resource intensive and hard to deliver well for students. Consequently, as they become more common and fashionable the real risk is students who end up semi-literate in two languages, the outcome data on the small number that exist was pretty mixed the last time I looked (late ’90s). And it’s worth remembering that overall we don’t do such a great job teaching all kids just one language. Update: Ed Knows Profanities.

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