America is truly becoming Teddy Roosevelt's feared ‘polyglot boarding house’

March 27, 2018

In a recent Cape Gazette I read the eye-opening article, "Gov. Carney offers plan for English language learners."

The governor said that in the last 20 years, the number of students who do not speak English when they start school has increased by 433 percent.

A look at Department of Education statistics shows that statewide Hispanic enrollment in Pre-K to 12 has accelerated from 18,148 in 2012-13 to 23,875 in 2017-18 school year.

That's a 26 percent increase, while black students decreased 3.6 percent and whites declined 9 percent in that period.

During the longer 2008-17 term, Hispanic student population exploded by about 90 percent.

Principal Heather Cramer said, "Now, we have 805 students going to North Georgetown (elementary) and 521 (65 percent) of them are English language learners."

And, of those 521 students, it was reported that 61 percent speak Spanish as their first language, but many others speak languages like Haitian or Creole and do not yet speak English.

Then, Olinda Coverdale, an English as a Second Language teacher at Cape Henlopen School District, said ELL (English language learners) students need help with content in classes and grade levels they were placed in, mostly due to age rather than ability or prior education.

In other words, these students who can't speak English well, or at all, are being advanced by age and not achievement!

On the opposite page to the article was an advertisement from the Cape Henlopen School District for a parents meeting offering a "Spanish Immersion Program" to be available at all five elementary schools next year.

A picture in the ad featured a young Caucasian boy reading a Spanish primer showing a picture of corn with the caption, "Yo veo maiz" (I see corn). But, notably, no Latino kids were pictured with an English primer. This all comes after the news last August that Cape High's students' English reading proficiency on the 2017 SAT's was only 50 percent which was a 6 percent drop from last year and below the state average (53 percent). Moreover, 80 percent did not achieve proficiency in the essay portion.

So, in light of these mediocre SAT scores and students who can't speak English, the obvious question is: Why isn't the focus on English immersion at all levels to improve "proficiency" instead of Spanish?

After contacting the Delaware Department of Education, I was advised that:

"Language acquisition research shows that two-way immersion programs can be of great benefit to English learners as it helps them to build literacy in their native language, which then helps them transfer these literacy skills much more quickly into English. Cape has been very thoughtful in the design of its immersion programs as ways to help address the needs of English learners."

Further information on the DOE website from the Association of Two-Way and Dual Language Education offers a clue to the overall strategy to: "create and support powerful programs and services designed to promote multilingualism, multiculturalism, academic success, and global readiness as defining features of transformative education."

Compare that to the cultural imperatives earlier in our history in which the English language had always been considered the first step to assimilation into American life.

Remember President Theodore Roosevelt's words: "We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house."

Or, President Lyndon Johnson, the scion of the progressive left, who upon the signing of the 1965 Immigration Act assured us that, "The days of unlimited immigration are past." I can almost see him smirking.

Today, it's apparent that we live in an almost post-American era where the intent of the elites is to transform America into a multicultural-multilingual society. As an example, one of my insurance companies offers 16 different language interpreters available free of charge to policy holders. Remember when not long ago the ideas of the melting pot, Americanization and a shared national identity were the standard themes.

Now, we have constant messages promoting: diversity as our strength, rather than merit; open borders even though that would be disastrous with our welfare system magnet; and sanctuary cities that have become the fashionable, new urban renewal program.

The prior policy of immigrants assimilating into American culture is now reversed to require American citizens to assimilate Third World cultures.

It seems that America is truly becoming Teddy Roosevelt's feared "polyglot boarding house."

Geary Foertsch lives in Rehoboth and writes from a libertarian perspective to promote economic liberty, non-cronyism free markets, small government and a non-intervention foreign policy. He can be contacted at


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