KE Cellars

Es tiempo aprender inglés. (It’s time to learn English.)

Recently I was driving on south Broadway in front of Hogg Middle School in Tyler when I saw a series of yard signs on the campus announcing that progress reports were being issued. The signs appeared in the parkway in front of the school in a row, alternating between signs in English and signs in Spanish.

Progress Reports Today

Honest to goodness, if you’re in middle school in Tyler, Texas and you need a sign in Spanish to tell you that progress reports are coming out, how much progress are you really making?

We asked TISD’s Angela Jenkins about the signs. She told us that the signs were for the benefit of TISD’ s “bilingual community.”

Bilingual community?

When Hispanics make the choice to come to the U.S. for a better life with more opportunity, the worst thing we can do, as a society that has historically welcomed immigrants, is coddle parents and children when it comes to English.

English is the language of success in America and around the world. It is the lingua franca of commerce everywhere on the planet. Facility in English is absolutely prerequisite to high level employment in this country. Not fluent in English? Don’t expect to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, banker or insurance salesman.

Don’t expect investors to fall all over themselves to provide capital for the business you are wanting to start. Same thing for the loan officer from whom you would like to borrow money.

My wife’s grandparents came over in steerage and landed on Ellis Island. In early 20th century America, no one had even thought of the phrase “bilingual community.” If you couldn’t speak English, you couldn’t get a job. No job – no food. This simple economic equation served to focus the minds of the boatloads of immigrants coming to America. They had to learn the language and learn it quickly. Which they did.

And although my wife’s Grandpa Ben spoke English with a heavy accent to his last day, speak English he did.

Grandpa Ben’s children and grandchildren speak the English of America, accented only by the patois of the American neighborhoods in which they were raised. And they are American through and through. “We are a nation of immigrants,” is not a phrase that pertains to people from Mexico who want the opportunity and freedom of America without the attendant costs and responsibilities. It does not pertain to those who want to transplant their native country (Mexico) to American soil, absorbing none of the history, traditions, customs – and language – of the fabulously free and opportunity-rich country to which they have made the choice to immigrate.

The ‘Nation of Immigrants’ is Grandpa Ben and his legion of fellow travelers, who risked everything, came to America and became American as best and as quickly as they possibly could.

America’s economic success depends on the availability of labor at all skill levels. As America prospers from generation to generation, there will always be a need for core labor in the lowest quintile of the wage and income ladder. These jobs have historically been filled by immigrants. Grandpa Ben was a window washer.

But his granddaughter graduated from law school. His seven year-old great granddaughter is limited in opportunity only by her imagination. Legal immigration that embraces the American way of life has been a path toward generational progress for countless millions who were born elsewhere but who came here.

There is no way to embrace the American way of life without embracing English. Lack of fluency in English condemns immigrants to de-facto ghettos of poverty without the hope for better things to come in successive generations.

There should be no such thing as “English as a Second Language” in schools charged with preparing children for success in the U.S.A. English should be the first language.

And while it may seem harsh or even cruel at first to force children to learn a language they may not hear at home, failure to do so consigns an entire generation of children to a lifetime of severely limited opportunity.

That’s just un-American.


  1. It may be too late to return to English as the predominant language but the schools are trying to teach children to speak English.

    The problem is that the parents do not learn English, so Spanish is still the language spoken at home. The children are bilingual and act as interpreter for the parents and other family members.

    The signs (and other materials sent home from school )are in English and Spanish so that the parents are able to read it.

    With immigration the issue it is today, I doubt that any politician(who wants to be elected or remain in office)is going to seriously support any efforts to force people to learn English.

    At the same time, businesses have to cater to the general population, so they increasingly market to Spanish speakers as that market increases.

  2. I am a Proud American, and I am getting frustrated that my children have to stop and wait while the children who barely speak English catch up in class work. Everyday I see more and more Mexican flags being flown on our soil! Now the last time I checked, we did live in AMERICA, and if people are risking their lives to come to AMERICA, then why are they raising their Mexican flags. I have also opened up service manuals or instructions, and had to flip to \

  3. Tony Lehman says:

    I heard about this topic here this morning while listening to KTBB. So I got onto computer to look this up. I agree with original Poster. I am not Racist, but strongly believe those (Immigrants) legal or illegal, need to accept America and its institutions \’as they find it\’. Included is to speak our national language of English.

    I heard a caller the other day state that whenever she heard Spanish spoken in the local stores, the more she was determined to vote for the \’Fence\’ and to send all \’Illegals\’ back. That same line of thought crosses my mind to. Do these Spanish speakers realize what they are doing? I hear Spanish spoken and I start resenting those speaking it. Am going to vote to send them back.

    I happened to stop by Walmart the other day just after school let out. I thought I was in a foriegn country. So many Moms speaking Spanish to their three of four kids – all over the store.

    I\’ve got a big problem with this. I\’m sorry for our Country.

  4. My wife an election judge has just been informed that she must have a Spanish speaker at the polling place. When I asked the county clerk if
    a valid drivers license was required for this position she promised to get back to me after checking with the AG\’s office. Finding a legal
    registered voter fluent in Spanish willing to work
    the twelve hours on election day for every voting
    pct in the USA will be a nightmare IMHO.

  5. Americans constantly ask “Why won’t they learn to speak English?” But they’re missing the point.
    Today’s immigrants don’t want to BE Americans – they just want the benefits of living here, at the expense of the rest of us.
    And regardless of what the politicians and activists say, this isn’t about Americans and Mexicans co-existing in America – it’s about Mexicans taking over control of the national politically by virtue of sheer numbers – and supplanting our American culture, language, customs and traditions with their Mexican culture.
    And if you don’t believe it, just watch our President while he helps them do it!

  6. I just saw a news article today (10-17-07) that illustrates some of the unintended consequinces. Seems a Latin American boy who speaks only English was forced to attend the classes taught to those Spanish speaking kids. The boy couldnt understand his classmates or class material for most part. He fell behind and was declared retarded.

    Why do our school systems have this English as a second language program? It may be politically correct but it is Un-American. We are doing a dis-service to future (citizens).

    ===============/News Article/==============

    Parents say school misread son\’s ethnicity
    The Oregonian [Portland, OR], by ESMERALDA BERMUDEZ Original Article
    Posted By: Tygerlily – 10/17/2007 10:49:07 AM Post Reply
    For more than a year, a Latino boy who speaks only English sat in his classroom confused by what his Spanish-speaking classmates were saying and falling behind in his work. His mother complained to school officials, but they insisted he belonged in the English as a Second Language program. Complicating things, the boy was considered to be developmentally delayed.

  7. To this statement of ONE ignorant person:
    “Honest to goodness, if you’re in middle school in Tyler, Texas and you need a sign in Spanish to tell you that progress reports are coming out, how much progress are you really making?”
    I say, not everyone that speaks Spanish and does not understand English has been here long enough to know all our language, some have not been here very long, legal and illegal. Do not speak neg of the school system that wants to communicate a message they feel is import with the majority of their parents.

    This statement:
    “Not fluent in English? Don’t expect to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, banker or insurance salesman.”
    Is not necessarily true, have you been to the doctor, hospital, or some stores lately, the ATTITUDE of “English is the language of success in America and around the world. It is the lingua franca of commerce everywhere on the planet.” Is an AMERICAN privilege attitude, and “If you couldn’t speak English, you couldn’t get a job. No job – no food.” I know some legal and illegal residents that have bigger homes, better cars, and live in better neighborhoods than I do!
    To say:
    “Don’t expect investors to fall all over themselves to provide capital for the business you are wanting to start. Same thing for the loan officer from whom you would like to borrow money.”
    Well this may be true to SOME extent, but not to the fact of spending money! The investors, or loan officer may not allow you to BORROW any money; however, which one of the two or millions will not take your money, no matter which language you SPEAK?

    THERE IS ONLY ONE TYPE OF PREJUDICE, and it is do you have enough GREEN or not!

    When you say:
    “And they are American through and through. “We are a nation of immigrants,” is not a phrase that pertains to people from Mexico who want the opportunity and freedom of America without the attendant costs and responsibilities. It does not pertain to those who want to transplant their native country (Mexico) to American soil, absorbing none of the history, traditions, customs – and language – of the fabulously free and opportunity-rich country to which they have made the choice to immigrate.”
    It is said with such hate, or prejudice, there are many MEXICAN Americans that are legal, came here legally, and are now USA citizens that are PROUD of our USA. Many take ALL the responsibilities that come with that title. The HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND CUSTOMS of America are also the Mexican ones, READ! that you and people like you so just want you did and clump them together. You and some like you forget that American Indians and yes MEXICANS were here in the good old USA before you!

    I am 1st generation American and my children are 2nd generation we are VERY American and love this country. I believe that this is the best country in the world, because of it’s tolerance of MOST to allow people to be themselves and embrace all humans with all their differences. On the statue of liberty does it not states:
    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
    Where does it say, UNLESS you can’t speak English, or ONLY if your educated, or ONLY if your not from MEXICO, or ONLY if you don’t take my job, or go to school with my child.
    I believe THIS is the GREATEST country in the world, and WE should take everyone. In AMERICA, we fight and love people who fight. I believe if you can make it here to dry ground, then you can stay. So talk to your Government officials about keeping people out.
    This is AMERICA, and if you fought to get here, then why should you not be able to stay in this country “land of opportunity?” MEANS “land of opportunity?”

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