Without identifying the writers, I am providing these examples of political wrangling found on listservs for fl teachers. The first is simply a comment on Obama the candidate and his recommendations for fl study.
The second is a response from a Neocon who knows full well Obama’s background, yet frames his response to shower skepticism on Obama. Note the reference to what we used to call “bleeding hearts”, the scorn heaped on the very idea of the helping professions. The reason for this is that those of us in the helping professions (I used to be in social services) is that we see first hand the results of unequal funding for schools, lack of health care, lack of access to decent, affordable food, and lack of decent working conditions. We must be silenced by ridicule.
Here they are:
> NPR today reported that Barack Obama decries the lack of language
> in schools. He says all students should be bilingual and perhaps
> Cool, huh ?
Well, all this sounds good – what it will actually mean is another story.
> Are he and his wife competent in another language? A good example is
> better than preaching. They both are privileged members of society who
> our finest universities. We might hope that they each came away with some
> ability to use another language.
> The Bush administration did push through a critical languages initiative
> including over 100 million dollars. What has become of it I do not know.
> Certainly our profession didn’t run with it.
> My suspicion is that Obama hasn’t a clue as to why most students do not
> learn a language and why student motivation is so low. I have seen that
> motivation is there, students do learn. Students are especially interested
> learning languages when they see their relevance to their career plans. Of
> course, both Obama and his wife have encouraged young people to limit
> their career
> choices and not select the “money-making professions” and instead go into
> “helping professions”, so I suppose a little pidgin Spanish will do for
> the new
> legionnaires of mercy. We of course might ask the Obamas (in English or
> other language) why they selected professions that have given them an
> of over 4,000,000 dollars. I wonder if they have used any of it to
> Rosetta Stone courses.
Congress: Rank-and-File Members’ Salary
The current salary (2008) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate
is $169,300 per year.
I do not wish to get policital about this. This is information that some of
us may not know.
I don’t know all the facts, but I have read that Obama speaks passable
Bahasa and often greets prominent Indonesians visiting this country. So he
must know the value of having a second language first hand. As for
“privelege,” well, a son of a bi-racial couple back in the 60+70s, no Dad,
growing up in a small apt in Honolulu…hmmm….Michelle grew up in a small
apt on the south side of Chicago. (“privelege” doesn’t come to my mind in
Michelle Obama is not running for president, but is out there helping. Both
have worked hard to get where they are and could have continued in the
private sector. Both while starting out in their law careers took the time
for community organizing, rather than just cashing out. Knowing the laws of
the land does help the process.
Based on a 1st account of a classmate of our current leader in a Spanish
class at Yale, it does not appear he shares the same enthusiasm for a second
language others. This makes me wonder also, where the money for that
intiative went actually. Does anyone know?
When I hear a candidate and Senator bringing attention to this sadly lacking
element of our education, based on his own experience, I feel hopeful.
Whether he knows the specifics of teaching an L2, or not, should not be a
criteria for judging the sincerity of his statements. It is clear that the
issues around teaching and learning languages haves gained a much higher
profile in recent years. Maybe something will come of this after all???