Monday, February 26, 2007

Program to Help Immigrants Learn English to Be Cut

After listening to last week's NPR story on the Bush Administration plans to kill the Even Start Program, which provides intensive family literacy services at local public schools to immigrant families, I wondered how such programs in Tennessee would fare, especially given the recent push at the local and state levels for English Only restrictions on government employees.

From what I've heard so far, this English literacy program has suffered because of Bush Administration attempts to kill it over the past several years. One Even Start official here told me that the past three years have been particularly difficult and that a group adversely affected by the loss of Even Start would be the teenage parents that the program serves. A former Even Start official told me that she watched past federal cuts drastically reduce program personnel. I tried to contact the State Even Start Director Tabatha Siddiqi for her response, but she did not return my e-mail.

With the growing backlash against immigrant families in Tennessee, it would be a travesty to lose a literacy program that does the very thing that English Only proponents claim to desire.

1 comment:

  1. It's a good program, and one we should have fought to maintain. Its funding was cut from 225M in 2005 to 99M in 2006, and it's likely to be cut entirely this coming year.

    The problem is that it's also missed it performance targets in all but one area since it started. The program works incredibly well at keeping LEP students in school and getting them to achieve their GEDs, but it's not as successful with younger children. Cutting the funding entirely is throwing the bebe out with the bathwater. Shame.