A while back, a Dallas school board trustee named Joe May came up with the questionable idea of forcing all the district's principals to learn Spanish, so that they would ostensibly be able to communicate better with the parents of Hispanic students, which make up 43 percent of the district. As you can imagine, many people were outraged, saying that it would be far more productive for the parents in question to learn English.
The proposal, which will be voted on later this month, was addressed again in an editorial column in yesterday's paper. The author was Edward Rincón, president of a research firm that specializes in measuring multicultural markets. According to the article,
[N]umerous studies of Latino adults show that more than 80 percent of those not born in the U.S. prefer to communicate in Spanish when given the choice. Why should this matter? When communicating in their dominant or preferred language, Latinos are more likely to comprehend and act on important information. The advertising industry has recognized this concept for many years and uses it to shape the buying behavior of Latinos.OK, so education should look to the advertising industry as a role model? Shouldn't the students be treated as more than just "clients" (or, even worse, as "product")?
So maybe these parents prefer to communicate in Spanish; does that mean we need to indulge that preference? I'll bet I could go to school tomorrow and take a poll that would show that 80 percent of students would prefer to play video games instead of studying Shakespeare, but don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
But here was the statement that really got me:
Dallas school trustees have an opportunity to reverse this trend by supporting Mr. May's proposal and sending a message to the broader Dallas community that speaking the language of your customer is an important priority.Maybe so, Mr. Rincón...but isn't speaking the language of your nation an even more important priority?
I was thinking about sending that question in as a letter-to-the-editor. Good idea? Bad idea? I don't totally shy away from controversy on this blog, but a lot more people read the paper than read The Musings.
A new definition for the word "milkweed": A herd of cows in Russia will be grazing this winter on confiscated marijuana obtained in drug busts.
Visiting the safari park in a mini-car? Not a very Smart idea: When I was in Switzerland a fw years ago, I got a kick out of the boxy little Smart cars that were often seen around town. Now comes word that, at a safari park north of London, lions are stalked by lions as prey.
(Hat tip for both the above: Dave Barry's Blog)