You don’t need clickbait xenophobia to stir up intolerance
Talk about short attention span.
We have heard before that today’s internet readers expect “instant gratification and quick fixes” to click on a story, and if you are intriguing enough, they might get half way through a posting.
But sometimes even the resolutely non-clickbait headline gets a big reaction. This past weekend “Philly's first Spanish immersion preschool opening 2015” had English-only supporters seeing red.
Thanks to a link by Drudge Report, a short posting about “Mi Casita”, a Spanish immersion preschool, prompted over 700 comments that range from “WE WERE DISCOVERED BY THE ENGLISH AND THAT IS THE NATIVE TONGUE THEY SPOKE WHY DO WE CATER TO THESE ILLEGALS AND THEIR REFUSAL TO LEARN ENGLISH?” to “This is AMERICA ! ENGLISH ONLY in all schools and governments. DEPORT or EXECUTE ALL ILLEGAL ALIENS.”
Strangely enough the article has no immigration content. The program is not intended for Latinos or students of a specific background. According to Melissa Page, founder of the preschool, “Mi Casita” is a privately funded project to develop children into multicultural students.
It turns out Philadelphia is behind many other cities and states that already have implemented language immersion programs.
Last May Delaware Governor Jack Markell was interviewed by AL DÍA News and talked about this. “It is incredibly important to me that we recognize that our future prosperity is largely connected with our ability to do business with people all over the world. For this reason, two years ago we started an initiative to open 20 world language immersion schools where students spend half the day learning in a different language,” Gov. Markell said.
According to the governor, this year 850 kindergarden and first graders in Delaware are learning science, social studies and math in either Spanish or Chinese at public schools.
The total number of dual-language immersion programs has risen from 260 to more than 2,000 nationwide since 2000, according to an article in EdWeek.
“There are programs like this in other states and they are very successful. So I just wanted to bring something that was missing in Philadelphia. There is a French immersion program and there are Spanish workshops, but there aren’t many total immersion programs in terms of preschools,” Page said.
Originally from Texas, Page learned Spanish at a very young age. She said that learning Spanish changed her life completely and gave her many more opportunities than if she hadn’t otherwise. “I majored in Spanish in college and worked for Telemundo. I have traveled and met people from all over the world. Speaking more than one language really broadened my perspective from just being a Texan to being a citizen of the world.”
“The program is intended for any and ‘all of the above,’” she said. “I have people who have registered who are coming from bilingual homes, people from trilingual homes and monolingual ones. I have every mixture of culture, race, background, language. This program is for people who value speaking more than one language.”
Having taught Spanish in Philadelphia high schools, Page said many students don’t begin to study another language until they are freshmen. “I see the frustrations when trying to learn a second language at that point in their life. It doesn’t come as naturally as when you are a child.”