Waiting for SuperMandarin
December 31, 2011, 02:30 PM
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A reader writes:

"Can you call 'em or what? I just happened to re-read your review of the education documentary Waiting for Superman last night. You talked about how the director [Davis Guggenheim] drove past 3 public schools in his area [the L.A. beach community of Venice] because they supposedly had "bad teachers" to send his kid to a private school. You said that instead of "bad teachers", the reason he avoided those schools was likely because their enrollments were nearly all NAM. And you pointed out that one of the schools was starting a Mandarin immersion program, and that they might be doing that to attract higher scoring kids.

"Now, today's LA Times has an article about that very program, and how popular it is, and guess what? Almost everyone in the immersion program is white or Asian:"

Broadway Elementary last year joined the ranks of more than 200 schools across the state to offer a dual-language immersion program in which students learn in two languages with the goal of becoming academically proficient in both. In the school's "50-50" program, teachers who use Mandarin in the classroom and those whose instruction is in English are paired, and students spend half their day with each.

Broadway began the program to help boost plummeting enrollment — the school had reached a low of 257 students in 2008-09. The experiment worked — maybe too well.
With about 130 students in the Mandarin program so far, school enrollment is now at 330. Principal Susan Wang is concerned that the dual-language learners will outnumber the students in the regular school classes. And, by 2013-14, she figures that the Mandarin program will need a bigger home.

The newcomers to the Mandarin program also changed the demographics of the little neighborhood school. In 2009, 81% of Broadway's students were Latino, 15% were black, six were white and none were Asian. The next year, the new classes of Mandarin immersion students were almost exclusively white and Asian.

I don't disapprove of the contortions that affluent beach-town liberals go through to keep their kids out of classrooms dominated by the children of illegal Mexican immigrants. What I do disapprove of is how those same people demonize less-privileged Americans who want a little of the same thing for their own children when they ask for our border laws to be enforced.