Bilingual Education is a joke in California

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I can’t find a school to put my kids in that provides bilingual education. We live in San Francisco Bay Area and we have two kids, 4 and 2. I started today to look for Kindergarten programs for my oldest and I’m frustrated. We have a public school a block away with a rating of 6/10 based on Great Schools rating which zillow uses (it used to be 8/10). It is not the worst, but not the best either. It’s supposedly a STEM Magnet program, but you have to test into it, so we’ll see.

Logistically, the school is perfect, close to our home. But ideally? Not so.

You see, our daughters are trilingual: Spanish, Persian, and English. I speak only Spanish to them, the wife only Persian, and English they learned by listening to the parents talk, their friends at the libraries, and our friends.

I’ve looked for dual language immersion programs in the area and I’ve only found three:

  1. pre-school, no kinder one city north.
  2. one that is two cities over. We would have to move to that city (average home prices for a 3/2 house is above $1.3M)
  3. Last is three cities over and we would also have to move there

While I was growing up, bilingual education existed in the public school system. In 1998, prop 227 greatly reduced the bilingual offering in public education, the very same one I had the privilege to participate in. The benefits of this bilingual education is shown throughout my career. For one, bilingual education helps you┬ákeep “your brain healthy, complex and actively engaged”, and two, it’s just fun (expands your circle of friends, helps in travel, and more)!

From the age of 0 to 9 I lived in Guatemala, then I grew up in-between Guatemala and the US between the age of 9-14, and then finished high school in the US. I attended 5 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 1 high school – I came out OK. I had bilingual education in Guatemala and the US until 6th grade. Now, I’ve had a career that uses Spanish for at least 40% of the time!

Should I be worried about my kids’ education? My responsible side says yes, but my growing “free” side is saying in my head … who cares, they’ll be fine. It’s as if I have two opposite types of people inside my head fighting it out to see who screams the loudest.

What is Education?

This whole exercise has me wondering … what is education anyway. A colleague at work did a short lighting talk for 5 minutes highlighting the current status of homeschooling in the US (it was part of her Masters thesis at Stanford as a Religious major). It had some scary information … I’ll let you look it up to avoid scaring you. After hearing what she said, I realize that education is a way for adults to indoctrinate the kids in whatever belief system they have, be it religious, political, moral, etc..

I want my kids to grow up happy and with a career that helps them build a life (buy food, shelter, and whatever fun they want). I want them to be at least bilingual because I know that it will help them with the career part. If anything, they’ll be able to travel to Spanish speaking countries without struggling with the language.

Look, I realized this is a first world problem. I am sure that as I learn more and more about the K-12 education in CA, it’s not that bad. But, I would love to live in a place that offers a dual language program at every school (or most schools).

So to that end, we’re moving. We’re downsizing homes to move to a neighborhood that offers a bilingual immersion program … wish us luck!

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