2005 June 06 Monday
Worsening English Language Problem With Immigrant Children
A new report from the United States Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) paints a picture of a worsening problem in the nation's schools with the inability of immigrant children to speak English.
"The number who spoke a language other than English at home and who spoke English with difficulty increased by 124 percent" from 1979 to 2003, the report says.
The report shows 9 percent, or 3.7 million, of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in 1979 spoke a foreign language at home, and more than a third of them "spoke English with difficulty."
But by 2001, the number of immigrant children who did not speak English at home had grown to 19 percent of the national school population, or 9 million students -- of whom 2.4 million spoke English with difficulty.
Why not require some minimal level of English proficiency even for the children of immigrants before they are even allowed to enter the country?
You can read the full report: The Condition of Education 2005.
In another sign that mainstream media are waking up to the immigrant problem Robert Samuelson of Newsweek says the illegal immigrant influx is undermining the assimilation of those who are already here.
Being brutally candid means recognizing that the huge and largely uncontrolled inflow of unskilled Latino workers into the United States is increasingly sabotaging the assimilation process.
But no society has a boundless capacity to accept newcomers, especially when many are poor and unskilled. There are now an estimated 34 million immigrants in the United States, about a third of them illegal. About 35 percent lack health insurance and 26 percent receive some sort of federal benefit, reports Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies. To make immigration succeed, we need (paradoxically) to control immigration.
No industrialized modern high tech society has a boundless capacity to undermine the pillars that make it work.
The US Education Department also has some facts and figures about the trend in ethnic mixes in US schools.
Forty-two percent of public school students were considered to
be part of a racial or ethnic minority group in 2003, an increase from
22 percent in 1972 (see table 4-1). In comparison,
the percentage of public school students who were White decreased from
78 to 58 percent. The minority increase was largely due to the growth
in the proportion of students who were Hispanic. In 2003, Hispanic
students represented 19 percent of public school enrollment, up from 6
percent in 1972. The proportion of public school students who were
Black or who were members of other minority groups increased less over
this period than the proportion of students who were Hispanic: Black
students made up 16 percent of public school enrollment in 2003,
compared with 15 percent in 1972. Other minority groups made up 7
percent in 2003, compared with 1 percent in 1972. Hispanic
enrollment surpassed Black enrollment for the first time in 2002.
Keep in mind that the Hispanic portion of public school enrollment understates their portion of school age population because they drop out at high rates. Only 53% of Hispanics graduate from high school and their terrible average academic abilities has placed Texas at the bottom of United States high school graduation rates. The idiot Bush obviously did not pull off an educational miracle while governor of Texas. Lest you might think this is just a Texas problem in the Los Angeles Unified School District 61% of Hispanics drop out. These figures understate the size of the problem. Why? Because people of different races who even manage to graduate from high school graduate knowing drastically different amounts of material. The Thernstroms report that 12 grade Hispanics know little more than 8th grade whites.
"Blacks nearing the end of their high school education perform a little worse than white eighth-graders in both reading and U.S. history, and a lot worse in math and geography. In math and geography, indeed, they know no more than whites in the seventh grade. Hispanics do only a little better than African-Americans. In reading and U.S. history, their NAEP scores in their senior year of high school are a few points above those of whites in eighth grade. In math and geography, they are a few points lower."
Also see here for more on the Thernstrom data.
I keep harping on the Hispanic education failure and the larger set of problems posed by immigration because demography is destiny and America's destiny is looking grim. Our future is "Dumb and Dumber", at least until cognitive enhancement drugs, genetic testing, and germ line genetic engineering become commonplace. While we wait for that distant day to arrive we should stop and reverse the illegal alien influx and put in place high skills requirements for legal immigrants as a proxy for cognitive ability.
This horrific decline in quality of population indicates a nihlistic desire for destruction on the part of the officials responsible. Such trends, which are exactly what the collapse of civilization looks like, are why an all merit system in immigration is especially necessary. If children or other relatives can immigrate on no other basis but a family connection, this represents an antimerit system. Our enemies are thrilled by this degradation of population quality which menaces our national security. Where is loyalty civilization and its advancement? An omerta is being maintained on the damage that is being done to our civilizational level, and abilities' distribution, by antimerit immigration policies, especially by the professoriate. If we have an allmerit immigration policy with the strictest language requirements possible, there would be immigrants with children coming in, or very few, since each would have to qualify separately.
Considering that 99% of the US population are children/grand children/great grand...etc of immigrants, at what point in US history did immigration turn from being a positive to being a negative?
When dummies started showing up in such large numbers.
But also, when land values and housing costs shot up in so many different parts of the country. All the desirable places to live are getting really expensive. I think we have enough people now. Time to set standards for immigrants really high.
If you think that's bad, look at this study regarding social penalties in the black, hispanic and white communities for students who excell academically:
"Among whites, higher grades yield higher popularity. For Blacks, higher achievement is associated with modestly higher popularity until a grade point average of 3.5, when the slope turns negative. A black student with a 4.0 has, on average, 1.5 fewer same-race friends than a white student with a 4.0. Among Hispanics, there is little change in popularity from a grade point average of 1 through 2.5. After 2.5, the gradient turns sharply negative. A Hispanic student with a 4.0 grade point average is the least popular of all Hispanic students, and has 3 fewer friends than a typical white student with a 4.0 grade point average. "
In other words, the disfunctional culture itself is part of the problem.
I think that part of the problem is the welfare state. Back in the nineteenth and early 20th centuries, the stupid, lazy and unlucky immigrants from Europe who couldn't hack it here went home. I've read that approximately half of the Italian immigrants who came here went back. And about a third of Irish went back to Ireland. This winnowing process while harsh is good for the country because the smartest, toughest and luckiest stay.
Mariana, I also read that article - it seems to me that it could be stretched to support the proposition that higher achievement is a social function rather than genetic function (at least in the short term).
As for the winnowing process, I tend to agree with you, but couldn't the reverse also be argued? - ie those who weren't able to hack it in a highly competitive european society were forced out and had to try their luck in the US? Australia also comes to mind - its a successful country on the western model and yet its base immigrant population were convicts deported from the UK, so they had no choice about leaving (so they didn't self-select) and there's no way I can see to argue that the convicts would have had more useful genes on average than the population they left behind.
Mariana is correct in saying that a lot of European immigrants returned to Europe. Also, 18th and 19th century Europe was not as sorted by cognitive ability as America is today. A lot of the elites inherited their titles and wealth. Plus, some people (though probably a small number) were coming over here as investors since it was a place with lots of natural resources. So it is not clear to me that Europeans who came here were less bright than those who stayed in Europe. In fact, a lot of families sent their best and brightest to America to try to get established and then send money home to bring over more family members. Plus, Ellis Island did real filtering that the illegal aliens crossing over from Mexico are not subjected to.
Most of the immigrants to Australia were not criminals and the bulk of transportees were male. So they had a hard time passing along their genes as compared to the families that immigrated. Also, what qualified one for deportation to Australia was pretty small stuff in some cases (at least that is the impression I got from reading The Fatal Shore). Also, some of that crime was driven far more by desperation (i.e. hunger) than crime of today.
"As for the winnowing process, I tend to agree with you, but couldn't the reverse also be argued? - ie those who weren't able to hack it in a highly competitive european society were forced out and had to try their luck in the US?"
European society would have had to have been highly competitive instead of being heavily stratified on social rank and class. Besides, even if the upper classes were more intelligent, primogeniture still ruled in Europe so a lot of the people who came here were second or third sons of aristocrats and merchants. Iirc Alexander Hamilton's father was an unlucky second son of an aristocrat/merchant. Didn't the English Civil War cause a large number of Cavalier aristocrats to escape to the American South? Plus, a large number of Jews came here over the years: Are you really going to argue they just couldn't hack it in Europe? Their problem was they were too successful and became targets of hate as a result.
Things were different back then, Stephen. Perfectly sound, competent, and intelligent people were forced to emigrate from Europe due to religious, ideological, and class reasons. A lot like European scientists now who have to emigrate to the anglosphere to get adequate financing and equipment. These days most europeans are content to put in their time and collect their pension after age 45.
Randall, take a look at this study. It focuses on Hispanic educational performance. There are some stats at the end that you'll love, like the fact that Hispanics are 6 times more likely than the general population to be in special education:
Stephen, the need for unskilled immigrants in turn of the century America is far different than our need for them in the high tech driven world of today. Maybe this answers your question, but if you are an avid reader of Steve Sailer, this should come as no shock. Even allowing for the idea that the poor educational performance of so many Hispanic youth is not their fault (I'm playing Devil's advocate), why should we continue to accept so many unskilled Latino immigrants at our current pace when we are having serious problems assimilating them into American culture, of which education is a huge part of the process?
BTW, I don't blame Mexican immigrants for wanting to come here. If any of us lived there, we'd prolly want to get across the border too. That doesn't mean that those of us who are already here need to support our current immigration (or lack thereof) policy.
As a sidenote, I doubt anything substantive will be done about immigration reform. Maybe I'm wrong, but I now look at Democracy itself as fundamentally flawed to be able to correct problems like this, at least in heterogenous, stratified countries like America. Behavioral genetics will either 'save' us or it won't. If it doesn't, look for a replication of the decline of the British Empire to play itself out in this country. Maybe on the same time frame.
Raj is right that democracy contains a fatal flaw. If a democratic government enforces the "will of the people", and if the people are dysfunctional, then government action will reinforce the dysfunctionality of the people and society.
Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" solution was a bit extreme. The small percentage of people in society who actually keep things running for the dysfunctional majority are obviously responsible for the whole ball of wax, in a way. They are the ones who will create an alternative path, if any path is created. Otherwise look at Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Sudan as the future of a first world that is rapidly turning third world.
"Otherwise look at Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Sudan as the future of a first world that is rapidly turning third world."
I think that's precisely what the global power elites want. The solution to income inequality and disparities in development is no longer about bringing the first world to the third world, but bringing the third world to the first world. The global egalitarian agenda means that we'll all be equally poor, violent, & miserable together.
Any action must be at the federal level. States don't have the power to mandate language (it's already been litigated).
"I think that's precisely what the global power elites want. The solution to income inequality and disparities in development is no longer about bringing the first world to the third world, but bringing the third world to the first world. The global egalitarian agenda means that we'll all be equally poor, violent, & miserable together."
Posted by Stuka
This must be the case. Bush may be an "idiot" but he can't be completely surrounded by idiots.From the Dems one can expect nothing because they are too committed to egalitarian fantasies.
Stephen, the need for unskilled immigrants in turn of the century America is far different than our need for them in the high tech driven world of today.
And what exactly is this "need" raj? And "need" do you claim at the turn of the century?
Is it that they do jobs that even blacks won't do?
I tend to think that gainfully employed Americans is a good thing. I don't know if you've looked lately, but jobs are hard to come by right now.
Considering that 99% of the US population are children/grand children/great grand...etc of immigrants,
at what point in US history did immigration turn from being a positive to being a negative?
Posted by Stephen at June 6, 2005 06:26 PM
Positive for whom?
And your numbers are bogus.
Any action must be at the federal level. States don't have the power to mandate language (it's already been litigated).
Posted by Dave Schuler at June 7, 2005 08:52 AM
Odd, I don't recall this as a power granted the federal government by the constitution.
Fill me in, where is it?
Or is this another of the many and wonderous uses of interstate commerce clause?
Rich, go read my post again. I think you missed my point the first time.
What's the betting that the American born descendants of these Mexicans, in future years will start to DEMAND "their fair share" of clean, well-paid, white-collar jobs (despite the fact that their IQ levels and education disqualify them from these coveted postions), and begin to raise merry hell, until their demands are met, so they can live "just like the Anglos do".
After all, it's been tried before, and the tactic worked very successfully.
"What's the betting that the American born descendants of these Mexicans, in future years will start to DEMAND "their fair share" of clean, well-paid, white-collar jobs (despite the fact that their IQ levels and education disqualify them from these coveted postions), and begin to raise merry hell, until their demands are met, so they can live "just like the Anglos do".
After all, it's been tried before, and the tactic worked very successfully."
They are ALREADY covered by affirmative action laws. Read "Collision Course: The Starnge Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America" by Hugh Davis Graham published by Oxford University Press in 2002. This is a dirty little secret that most people don't know. If they did, the immigration issue would be even hotter than it is.
Please note that even the State of CA has never considered "immigration status" important when filling diversity spots.
Illegal aliens go first, then, maybe, American children, if there are no women or blacks competing or desired.
If the state has no problem hiring foreign felons, why should anyone else worry?
Immigration of those who were not net taxpayers, was never a net positive factor. In terms of average abilities of the respective groups, Europeans were raising the average of the population which would otherwise have had a larger Amerindian percentage. America could have waited for a natural increase of the colonial and indigenous populations; but then we would have been unable to participate in the WW's on a large scale.
Even whites in America aren't doing that well. Results from the TIMSS international testing survey showed American whites scoring well below Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese in mathematics. If our growing non-white population is academically doing even worse than our relatively medicore white population in this increasingly knowledge driven global economy, then we're in a lot of trouble. America's economic and technological competitivness will surely suffer.
Look for the nations of Asia (China, India, Taiwan, and Korea) to overtake us.
Dear Jay Z,
I follow your point with regard to the east Asian nations, but India...Never!
Students in the US who have access to really good schools score very high on these tests. The problem is that many of our public schools have either been dumbed down intentionally (think test score variances and closing gaps) or the teachers have their hands so full with ESL, discipline, etc that they can't or won't teach the students that are perfectly capable of learning. I lived for many years in Northern VA. If you wanted your child to attend a really good school, you had 2 choices: 1. private school or 2. moving to a school district where the schools were good. If you chose the second, you had to be able to afford to live in that district, where housing costs may be well out of your reach. On the other hand, if you lived in a place like North Dakota, which frequently is at or near the top of the list of quality schools by state, your child could get a good education for considerably less, assuming you could find a job there.
My husband taught university level chemistry for years. He says that the good students - nearly all US students, by the way - that he has taught over the last few years are the best he has ever taught. A number of the others had to do a lot of catching up to handle his classes. Some didn't make it. You know chemistry or you don't.
In my opinion, this is just another "hidden" cost of our immigration policy (which seems to be "Y'all come") and is allowed to continue because the elites - left and right - do not have to worry about their children because they can afford private schools and/or expensive houses in good school districts. It is middle/working class citizens that bear this cost.
On the brighter side, the problem of quality schools is alerting more of our more apathetic citizens to the problem of massive third-world immigration - legal and illegal. Most folks are dead serious about their childrens' education.
Yes, India. Where do you think all the high-tech jobs are being outsourced to? India probably will give more competition to American engineers, scientists, and computer programmers than even the East Asian nations.
I think you're right that American kids probably have the aptitude to succeed, but I don't see the same drive among Americans as among Asians. The typical teenager in Tokyo or Seoul spends his entire afternoon at a private school preparing for the academic examinations and most of his evening studying. Where do American kids spend their afternoons and evenings? The mall.
Being able to do higher level science and mathematics is becoming more and more important every year. If American kids don't start studying harder to do well in those subjects, look for the nations of the East to overtake us in technology.
There are a lot of problems with our schools, but those problems haven't stopped Asian-American kids from excelling academically in this country. Even when those Asian kids go to schools full of dangerous inner city youth that have failed blacks and Hispanics.
Jay Z, you are correct in your assessment that many US students don't study and prepare to excel the way that the Asia kids (in the US and abroad) do. I blame the kids and their parents, of course; but if you can get an A for a little bit of work, most kids, by definition immature, aren't going to hit the books. The schools need to raise standards and forget the self-esteem politically correct BS. One of my friends sends his son to an expensive private school; and, believe me, he and his wife protect their investment by making sure that the son studies hard. He was entering science contests in elementary school.
Still we also have to keep in mind on the test score side that the US tries to educate vastly more of its children than a lot of the high-scoring countries do; and so a lot more of our less than stellar students get tested. I don't think that I have ever seen India and China represented in these tests and wonder if they actually participate in them at all. You can bet your last dollar that the children who enter the labor market while still children in these countries are not included. We have strong anti-child labor laws in the US as well as laws that make school attendance mandatory. These countries simply write off a good bit of their populations as needing little or no formal schooling
But adjusted for IQ are the Asian kids really doing better?
I've read that Japanese kids spend really long hours learning Japanese history and other things that do not make them technically or scientifically skilled. Is that true?
"But adjusted for IQ are the Asian kids really doing better?"
I think so. I think Asian-American kids score about 10 points higher on the SATs than whites. They score exactly the same on the ACT. Both are highly g-loaded tests. If Asians aren't outscoring whites by more than a negligible amount on these highly g-loaded tests, it suggests that whites and Asian-Americans are of very similar IQ.
However, anyone that's ever seen an academic competition on television or traveled to the science department of a major university is aware of the overwhelming Asian overrepresentation. More than an IQ gap of 1-5 points would suggest. Especially since the Asians supposedly have a smaller standard deviation than whites in IQ and supposedly fewer really smart people. Therefore Asians are academically doing much better than their IQs would predict.
Why is that? Asians will tell you it's because they push their children to work very hard in school. While white kids are hanging out at the mall or playing basketball, their kids are taking college preparation classes or studying phyiscs.
" I've read that Japanese kids spend really long hours learning Japanese history and other things that do not make them technically or scientifically skilled. Is that true?"
The Japanese may spend a lot of time learning Japanese history, but they also spend a lot of time learning mathematics and physics. Definitely more than American kids that take P.E., home economics, weight training, and other ridiculous classes that don't prepare them to excell in college.
Furthermore, I believe Finland scored about near the top in the TIMSS data.
Surely a much higher percentage of East Asian kids in America take the SAT than white kids. My guess is the same of South Asians in America since a disproportionate number of those kids have engineer and computer programmer parents. So I don't think the SAT scores prove your argument.
Asian overrepresentation is also due to foreigners coming here to major and work in science and engineering. That foreign competition lowers wages for natives who would do the same jobs and therefore discourages whites from going into sciences and engineering. So I don't see how that part of your argument proves your point either.
International comparisons tend to compare all ethnic groups in America in aggregate. If you look at just the whites in America I doubt that we look any worse than various higher scoring European countries.
East Asians score higher in the visuospatial stuff. So they are better at science tnan at more language-intensive stuff. They are not doing the sorts of radical mathematical thinking that wins the Fields Medal in spite of their scoring high on standardized math tests.
I also think East Asians are not as curious on average as compared to whites at the same IQ levels. Westerners still dominate in making big discoveries that require thinking out of the box.
I'm not at all surprised that a South Korean figured out how to do cloning (SCNT) for humans. They will do the tedious lab work repeatedly many times to try out new procedures with great discipline.
A Russian Ph.D. physicist friend of mine spent several years doing research and teaching at a Japanese university. He visited many corporate labs and found that most of the really cutting edge breakthroughs were being made by foreigners. The Japanese were really good at improving things. But they had to hire foreigners to make the key breakthroughs and solve problems that required more creativity.
If we want to improve America's average academic performance the best thing we could do is stop letting dummies immigrate and to deport all of the illegal aliens.
"If we want to improve America's average academic performance the best thing we could do is stop letting dummies immigrate and to deport all of the illegal aliens." Randall Parker
Randall, I can't disagree with you on this but there is also another angle to this issue: the H-1B and L-1 visas which allow college-educated "non-immigrants" take jobs in the US that otherwise could go to US citizens. The same university at which my husband taught chemistry is experiencing a decline in students majoring in IT related fields. A big reason is that a lot of students who are graduating with degrees in IT related fields are not finding jobs because of the importation of cheaper H-1B's into the US. Word gets back to students in lower classes and they switch majors. Note that these aren't students who couldn't manage math, science, and technology; they are students who didn't want to face paying off student loans while selling laptops at Computer World. Note also that these H-1B's are not geniuses; they are ordinary IT workers who will work cheaper.
We have to get the government and businesses to see that immigration, while beneficial in some ways, can produce a massive down side in others. The "Tech Dearth" is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. This helps nobody in the US in the long run. Students who don't believe that they have a future in science and technology related fields have little reason to invest a lot of time in science and technology.
I agree that the influx of H1B and L1 visa workers is discouraging at least some Americans from going into technical fields. However, is that a net loss to the economy? That part is less clear.
Also, while the job market for programmers has worsened it is less clear to me as to whether that is the case for all science and technical fields. What's the job market for chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineers? Or for people with advanced degrees in genetic engineering and other biotech areas? My impression in biomedical is that salaries are rising in research and in delivery of patient care.
Consider, anyone smart enough to do engineering is also smart enough to do a number of other things. Perhaps they end up owning fast food chain franchises or other businesss that pay them more than they would have made as engineers.
My take on the technical worker immigrants is that if their IQs are really high then they are a big plus. I'd give green cards to anyone with an IQ north of, perhaps 135. Mind you, a lot of imported programmers have IQs below 120. But for the really smart ones I figure if they aren't competing with American workers here they will be competing by designing products for non-American companies abroad. The super smarties are going to start companies and design products that open up whole new product areas and industries. They are an asset to whatever country they live in.
My guess is that above some IQ threshold the average worker is a net creator of high tech jobs. Not sure where that threshold is.
I believe the gap on the SATs between blacks and whites is about 1 standard deviation - exactly the same as the gap found on other IQ tests. If the SATs accurately represent the black-white IQ gap, I think we can reasonably assume they accurately represent the white-Asian gap. I'd be interested if you have data that show that Asians are significantly more likely to take the SATs than whites.
I know that Finland has a reputation for having an unusually rigorous educational school system (by European standards) and scored higher than Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and every European nation on the mathematics part of the TIMSS international test. It also scored at the top on the Program for International Student Assessment exam. Assuming Finnish whites are probably about the same in IQ as any other type of whites, whites in America are underachieving in these tests relative to what they could achieve if we adopted a rigorous education system like Finland or much of Asia has adopted.
The reason I stress test scores is that we're living in an increasingly knowledge driven global economy. If we don't increase the education and skills of our population, we're going to lose out when companies decide where to locate their technology research centers.
I think you make good points about the East Asian deficit in creativity and the impact of immigration on this country's furture. The only problem is that even if we stop immigration tomorrow, higher Hispanic and black birthrates will ensure that the average IQ of the population continues to decline gradually. How do we deal with that?
Randall, I'd be the last to keep out the type of immigrant you are describing. I'm married to one (from the UK in 1962).
My concern is that the majority of tech workers coming in on H-1B's and L-1's aren't a bunch of geniuses; they are simply capable (for the most part) but cheaper than US workers. There is also a lot of fraud in these visas, for one example, paying an H-1B as a programmer when he is doing much higher work that would net twice the salary.
I have seen numerous references to the fact that a lot of work being outsourced or given to H-1B's is low level, meaning that the "higher level" work is here for US citizens. But unless his dad owns the company, a kid straight out of college isn't going to start at - or near - the top. He's going to start at - or near - the bottom of his field. A freshly-minted US computer science/IT grad who can't get into the field as a programmer or low level administrator has just had his career in IT hijacked. He's not going to find a refrigerator box and live on the street. He's going to get a job doing something (like selling laptops at Computer World as I noted above) and so will not show up on the unemployment lists. This is one reason that wages are declining while unemployment is still relatively low. This isn't going to help the US keep its technological edge.
As for engineering, I read recently (can't recall where - a peril of reading too much) That CHEMICAL engineering salaries have declined for the first time since around the Depression. As we know, chemical engineering is a tough field. Don't know about biotech.
How tough is electrical engineering supposed to be?
Jay Z, as I'm sure you know, engineering in general requires high level math and science so none of it is a walk in the sun. Chemical, Electrical, and Aerospace are 3 of the toughest for certain but I'm sure others could be added here. At most universities, engineering is an area of study where mercy is lacking - you do the work or you fail. Those who can't handle the work or who don't want to work so hard generally get eliminated freshman year.
My comment regarding chemical engineering was in reference to salary decline in response to Randall's question "What's the job market for chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineers? Or for people with advanced degrees in genetic engineering and other biotech areas? My impression in biomedical is that salaries are rising in research and in delivery of patient care.. "
I think there should be a minimum of 2 months of intensive English before school for foreigners. And that shoul include pronounciation.
Helen...why don't you go to a foreign country and try to learn how to pronounce words just like they do for two months...then go there...try it out...watch to see what happens when they walk away. Yup...they are still going to be laughing at you. Too bad for you, and what as waste of two months.
some people i tell you