“English-Only Triumphs, but the Costs Are High” Essay Review

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In his essay, Portes criticizes the “English-Only” approach to education in the United States. He argues that it is rooted in nativist anxiety about immigration causing a loss of linguistic unity and a consequent societal collapse (as cited in Arum et al., 2015). In fact, the primacy of the English language is not in any danger. On the other hand, the loss of foreign language skills comes at a social cost. Portes challenges the decades-old studies suggesting that bilingualism is a handicap preventing English language mastery. He asserts that fluent bilingualism is preferable to either kind of monolingualism. However, this superior approach is only used in a few schools. The “bilingual” education attacked by modern proponents of “English-Only” is actually lower-quality remedial education in foreign languages. Portes rejects both this system and exclusive English-language education in favor of a genuine bilingual education that puts an equal emphasis on native language retention and English instruction.

Evidence

To illustrate the resounding success of “English-Only” policies from the perspective of monolingualism, Portes cites surveys and official statistics. According to the 1990 census, 92% of the U.S. population spoke only English, with the remainder mostly consisting of first-generation immigrants (as cited in Arum et al., 2015, p. 711). An international study reveals that out of 35 countries, the United States has the highest rate of foreign language loss. Furthermore, surveys show that the majority of children of immigrants prefer the English language and tend to lose their language of origin.

Portes points out that the studies deprecating bilingualism did not account for differences in class or proficiency with either language. He draws attention to later studies that linked fluent bilingualism with higher cognitive performance and greater self-esteem. The author cites psychologists who attribute this effect to the higher intellectual flexibility offered by mastery of different languages. Portes suggests that greater family cohesion might also contribute to those positive outcomes. The CILS survey that the author helped conduct indicates that bilinguals have fewer conflicts with their parents than English-only speakers. Conversely, those findings suggest that the loss of native language ability may seriously hamper the children of immigrants.

Given those advantages of bilingualism and the growing market demand for additional language skills, bilingual education seems to offer clear advantages. Portes contrasts remedial education in foreign languages with real bilingual education, which must include vigorous instruction in English alongside teaching in native languages on certain topics. He mentions the success of magnet language programs in “dual-language” schools, which gained the support of the Department of Education. Citing the opinion of former Education Secretary Riley, Portes asserts that the main obstacle to bilingual success in U.S. students is political rather than natural.

Critique

The article convincingly argues for most of its main points. Although the lack of linguistic unity might have contributed to the chaos in societies like the former Yugoslavia, it is clear that no such threat exists in the United States. On the contrary, the loss of foreign language skills carries high costs for individuals, communities, and the nation. Some of Portes’ arguments seem more speculative than others; for example, the mechanism behind the more favorable outcomes of fluent bilinguals is not fully revealed. Also, he does not offer any hard evidence for his economic claims. The disadvantages of remedial education in native languages and the nature of magnet language programs do not receive detailed treatment. It may also be useful to clarify what Portes means by nativism, as it may be inaccurate when describing movements aimed at integrating immigrants into U.S. society.

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Teaching and “Women’s Work”: A Comparative and Historical Analysis

Main Points

Apple’s central thesis in this chapter is that during the 19th and early 20th centuries, teaching transformed into women’s work, fundamentally altering the nature of the profession. Due to broader economic and demographic transitions connected to the Industrial Revolution, women went from being a minority to forming the overwhelming majority of teachers. Apple states that in the process, teaching came to be regarded as a low-pay, low-skill profession, requiring a higher degree of supervision (as cited in Arum et al., 2015). The author connects this change with a general tendency for women’s work to be especially strictly regulated in a patriarchal society. He also asserts that the changes in the teaching profession reflected the gender dynamics and beliefs of the time.

Evidence

Apple supports his thesis with evidence from British and American history. He demonstrates the demographical feminization of teaching by showing how the number of female teachers per 100 male teachers in the U.K. went from 99 in 1870 to 366 in 1930 (as cited in Arum et al., 2015, p. 463). In the same period, the percentage of women among teachers in the U.S. went from approximately 59 to 89.5 (Arum et al., 2015, p. 464). The author connects this trend with the rapid expansion of education and the shift to non-agrarian employment among men. The pay of women teachers was two-thirds that of their male colleagues in the U.K. and a half to one-third in U.S. (Arum et al., 2015, p. 464), so hiring them was more economical. Additionally, men had many superior employment options they could pursue instead.

The broader tendency of job positions occupied primarily by women being treated differently from those held by men is illustrated with the example of clerical work. Apple states that as it became increasingly female in the 20th century, clerical work saw a decrease in wages and promotion opportunities and an increase in regulations. Turning to the subject of teaching, Apple examines a similar dynamic in more detail. As well as being lower-paid, women also had to sign highly restrictive contracts that policed their personal life. Many educational institutions in the U.S. refused to employ married women. Control over the curriculum was taken out of the teachers’ hands, along with various managerial and disciplinary functions.

The author shows how patriarchal views of gender roles had shaped the changing profession. To justify the employment of women, teaching was increasingly portrayed as an extension of the feminine nurturing role. The oppressive restrictions applied to women teachers reflected anxieties about female sexuality and independence. Professional training also reflected gender norms, as male pupil teachers were tested in algebra and geometry while their female counterparts took domestic economy and needlework.

Critique

The cited excerpt of the chapter clearly shows that the teaching profession changed profoundly during the time in which it came to be seen as women’s work. Apple convincingly depicts the influence of patriarchal ideology, which defined teaching as an acceptable feminine role while also placing strict limitations on the women teachers. However, the implication that gender was the leading factor behind bureaucratization appears questionable. The decline in employee control over their work was a general tendency of the Industrial Age. Schools becoming more bureaucratic with the introduction of mass elementary education appears inevitable. Nevertheless, gender was a significant contributing influence that shaped the specific character of this process in education. It would be interesting to know what the author meant by deskilling, as it may be relevant to the changes in teaching.

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Discipline vs. Justice

Main Points

The authors of this excerpt allege that the disciplinary model used in California schools is deeply dysfunctional. A high rate of suspensions has resulted in unacceptably many students being removed from education, with negative consequences for those individuals, the education system, and society at large. In particular, it exacerbates racial disparities by disproportionately punishing minorities and causes punished individuals to turn away from social norms. The authors criticize punishment-oriented policies as based on a deficit discourse that oversimplifies behavior problems. Instead, they recommend the implementation of restorative practices that recognize students’ complicated individuality and aim to correct problematic student behaviors with their cooperation. The authors believe that such an approach would address disciplinary problems more effectively and educate students to be better citizens.

Evidence

The authors present striking evidence for the failure of the current disciplinary system. For example, in the 2010-2011 school year, California schools issued more suspensions than diplomas (Winslade et al., 2014, p. 6). The 2011-2012 school year saw 1 in 20 students suspended in California and 1 in 5 suspended or expelled in San Bernardino Country (Winslade et al., 2014, p. 6). Many of those suspensions are given for relatively minor disciplinary infractions. The impact of suspensions skews disproportionately against male students (66% of suspended students) and African-Americans (41%, compared to 21% suspended Whites), reinforcing racial disparities (Winslade et al., 2014, p. 8). Suspended students are more likely to drop out, leading many of them to become criminals. Additionally, mass suspensions may have cost schools in the San Bernardino City Unified School District as much as 14,501 instructional hours and $1,353,380 (Winslade et al., 2014, p. 10). Since the purpose of education is to prepare responsible citizens, those effects amount to a major failure.

The authors see the root of this failure in deficit thinking. Deficit thinking reduces problem students to simple stereotypes based on their shortcomings. Although the authors do not offer specific evidence, they argue that this approach harms students and blinds teachers to possibilities for improvement. The authors advocate a restorative approach based on respecting the individuality and agency of students. Under this approach, teachers would work with students, trying to make them understand the problems they cause for others without blaming them directly. The authors cite the view of the International Institute for Restorative Practices that students are more likely to change when authority figures work with them. To prove the superiority of a less punitive approach, the authors refer to the superior performance of Pioneer High School after it implemented a Positive Behavior Support program (Winslade et al., 2014). They assert that a restorative approach would produce a healthier society by educating problem students to be more empathetic.

Critique

The authors offer persuasive evidence for the failure of the current disciplinary system, which is excessively punitive and causes adverse long-term consequences for the students and society. They also offer some evidence for the greater effectiveness of a less punitive approach. However, the excerpt does not elaborate on what the Positive Behavior System involves. Also, no hard evidence is offered for the effectiveness of restorative practices. Although the approach itself is explored in detail and supported logically, it is prudent to be wary of untested theories. For instance, the authors advocate using externalizing language to talk about problems without blaming students for them, but students may still perceive it as an accusation. It is not clear what the abbreviation ADA stands for.

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Persisting Barriers: Changes in Educational Opportunities in Thirteen Countries

Main Points

The text asserts that the 20th century saw a dramatic expansion of the educational system in different industrial societies. While the attainment of higher educational status increased for all strata, the patterns of attainment remained unequal for individuals of different socioeconomic status. Blossfeld and Shavit argue that, contrary to expectations set by modernization theory, this expansion did not reduce the inequality in educational opportunities between different social strata (as cited in Arum et al., 2015). Instead, they posit that it may have contributed to the persistence of educational stratification by reducing the pressure for reform. The authors also observe that the unequal pattern occurs regardless of social and political systems, reflecting the enduring ability of social elites to secure the priority of their own children’s education. However, they note that educational inequality could decrease in connection to a long-term decrease in socioeconomic inequality.

Evidence

The authors derive their conclusions from a comparative analysis of studies concerning the evolution of education in thirteen countries. Though the excerpt does not include any figures, the authors maintain that the same trend of educational expansion could be observed in all the countries in question. A more or less persistent level of inequality in educational outcomes based on socioeconomic status can be seen in eleven out of thirteen countries (as cited in Arum et al., 2015). This observation was just as accurate for capitalist countries like the United States, West Germany, and Switzerland as it was for former socialist nations such as Hungary and Poland. The two exceptions are the Netherlands and Sweden, which saw a diminishing influence of socioeconomic status. Citing local researchers, the authors attribute this difference to the success of welfare policies reducing socioeconomic inequality, rather than educational policies (as cited in Arum et al., 2015). The overall outcome is in line with the maximally maintained inequality hypothesis, which states that expansion only creates new opportunities for disadvantaged groups when advantaged groups are already fully integrated at that level of education.

The excerpt does not examine the precise mechanism through which members of the elite secure more favorable outcomes for their children. The authors logically substantiate their assertion that educational expansion supports stratification by pointing out that class conflicts increase when the overall size of the pie decreases. When educational attainment increases for all classes, the pressure for a more even distribution of access to education will decrease (Arum et al., 2015). Also, while educational expansion can increase educational opportunity, that does not guarantee equality of outcome.

Critique

It is difficult to assess the validity of the authors’ analysis without access to the data from the studies, which is absent from the excerpt. Nevertheless, their conclusions are logically argued and appear broadly plausible. It seems possible that the modernization theory, which incorrectly predicted an increase in educational equality, has misinterpreted the “functional requirements of an industrial society” (as cited in Arum et al., 2015, p. 269). Perhaps such a society only requires a certain level of educational equality that has already been surpassed. The authors may have missed an opportunity to analyze the Dutch and Swedish model as a distinct social system (social democracy), which seemingly succeeded where socialism failed, at least with regards to educational equality. It is unclear what groups the authors assign to the social elite, as well as what they mean by saturation, “tracking,” and opening-up.

References

Arum, R., Beattie, I. R., & Ford, K. (Eds.) (2015). The structure of schooling: Readings in the sociology of education. Sage Publications.

Winslade, J. M., Espinoza E., Myers, M., & Yzaguirre, H. (2014). Restorative practices training manual. CSUSB ScholarWorks. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. 2022. "“English-Only Triumphs, but the Costs Are High” Essay Review." February 19, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/english-only-triumphs-but-the-costs-are-high-essay-review/.

1. ChalkyPapers. "“English-Only Triumphs, but the Costs Are High” Essay Review." February 19, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/english-only-triumphs-but-the-costs-are-high-essay-review/.


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ChalkyPapers. "“English-Only Triumphs, but the Costs Are High” Essay Review." February 19, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/english-only-triumphs-but-the-costs-are-high-essay-review/.