The History of Bilingual Education in America.
America has traditionally been referred to as a "melting pot." This symbolism makes reference to the fact that America is a nation composed of many diverse ethnic groups. In fact, it is likely that every group of individuals residing on the face of the earth has some representatives living in the United States.
Ironically, even though the U.S. is primarily a nation of individuals of immigrant origin, its citizens have a tradition of been concerned about the most recent immigrants "coming in and taking over." Individuals seem especially concerned about the language that newcomers speak. Benjamin Franklin had the same fears in 1753. Robert King quotes Franklin as having said:.
Those [Germans] who come hither are generally the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own nation they will soon so out number us that all the advantages we have will not, in My Opinion, be able to preserve our language, and even out government will become precarious.
Considerably later, Theodore Roosevelt echoed Franklin's views:.
We have room but for one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house (King). .
This type of thinking continues even today. For example, a citizen's group in Monterey Park, California, lobbied for a law that would require business signs to be written only in English. This action focused on the Chinese signs hanging on businesses that catered to an Asian clientele (Headden and Bowermaster 40).
Such attitudes and xenophobic behavior promote the enactment of a constitutional amendment that would declare English as the official language of the United States (qtd. in Santoro 890). Actually, such a declaration is common practice around the world. Many nations, however, enact such laws in an attempt to control or alleviate conflict.