Sent to the Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA, Nov. 25, 2012
Most of the proposals to deal with long-term English learners (“California's English language learners getting stuck in schools' remedial programs,” November 25) focus on tracking and measurement. None discuss a cure.
Our research shows that students who develop a pleasure reading habit in English do better on English language tests, and a number of case histories confirm that those who successfully acquire “academic English” were dedicated readers.
California makes this very difficult to happen. Many English learners come from low-income families, which means their primary source of books is the library. California has consistently ranked among the worst in the country in support for school libraries and librarians, and California cities rank near the bottom in support of public libraries.
Instead of dedicating our limited funds to better measurement, we might consider investing in better support of libraries and librarians. Let’s feed the animal and not just weigh it.
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California
Author of The Power of Reading (Heinemann and Libraries Unlimited, 2004, second edition).