Public Relations Address – Multiculturalism Celebration
Saturday, April 7, 2001 – Central Park
Keep bilingual education programs in New York City’s Public Schools
Buena tarde, Bonsoir, Gutenabend, Buoa sera…Good evening! I would like to thank you the Concerned Clergy Organization for inviting me. And I would also like to acknowledge my esteemed fellow panelists, Dr. Hopkins and Sarah Jenkins (nod in respect). For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Amanda Grace Mack. And I am running for mayor of New York City. I proudly stand as Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, a devoted wife and parent of three, and alumni of Fordham University. I currently hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies, a Master’s degree in Linguistics, New York State Teaching certification, and a Doctorate in English. I have received many awards and accolades. Why do I tell you these things about myself on this New York City’s third annual Multiculturalism Celebration? Not because I am trying to solicit votes, but because I care for the people of New York. And also because I am an example of the positive results of bilingual education.
Bilingual education is the gradual immersion of non-English speaking students into classes exclusively instructed in English. Today, nearly one third of the total student populations in New York City schools are immigrants, and the proportion is rising steadily. So, tell the city officials and Board of Education President that you don’t want to hear them say that there is no need for bilingual education programs! I am not afraid to stand hear today and tell you that I am a product of a low-income home. I grew up right here in Harlem. Both of my parents were immigrants from Senegal and they did not speak English. Naturally, I had a hard time in school. I was ten years old in the fourth grade, near failing yet another year of school when I was finally placed in a bilingual education program. Some one was willing to help me advance and that is why I can stand here today and assure you that New York City Public School Bilingual Education Programs work.
The critics have so much to say about Bilingual education in New York City. In a recent article of the New York Times, Rosell and Baker, two of the harshest critics of bilingual education, are quoted as saying that there is a need for an alternative to Bilingual education. Without any claim or care for our children, these two critics would like to see the New York Public School system implement the ESL program (English as a Second Language). The ESL program is different from bilingual education programs in the...