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Unformatted text preview: MAY 2009 379 American Journal of Education 115 (May 2009) q 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. 0195-6744/2009/11503-0002$10.00 What Have Immigrants Wanted from American Schools? What Do They Want Now? Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Immigrants, Language, and American Schooling MICHAEL R. OLNECK University of Wisconsin–Madison In this article, I argue that there has been a basic continuity between what immigrants historically have sought from American schools and what contem- porary immigrants seek. In neither case have immigrants sought to utilize the schools to “reproduce” or to “preserve” cultures separate from the American mainstream. Rather, immigrants have consistently sought to utilize American schooling for purposes of incorporation into a system of American ethnic groups that exhibit aspects of acculturation and retention. I make the case for continuity through an examination of the fate of homeland languages in the public schools during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; of the role of parochial schooling in the first third of the twentieth century; of the resistance of Mexican Americans of Crystal City, Texas, to “schooled ethnicity” during the 1970s and 1980s; of the attitudes of contemporary immigrants toward bilingual education; and, finally, of patterns of supplementary schooling among the children of immigrants. Introduction Since the early 1970s, numerous scholars have expressed anxiety that rejection of universalistic ideals and assimilationist aspirations on the part of racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities and their academic allies endanger American unity and harmony. Some such critics have charged that a disruptive multi- culturalism has become the new orthodoxy (Lind 1995). Arthur Mann (1970), for example, entitled a chapter of his book The One and the Many “The Ungluing Electronically published February 23, 2009 Immigrants, Language, and American Schooling 380 American Journal of Education of America.” John Higham (1975) identified a “new particularism” as having replaced older notions of pluralism, while Philip Gleason (1980, 56) concluded ominously that “the traditional Americanist position has not only been placed on the defensive, it has been left virtually undefended” (56). More recently, others have reached similar conclusions. Gary Gerstle wrote that Americans “no longer imagin[e] that [we] belong to the same national community or that [we] share a common set of ideals” (2001, 345). David Hollinger claimed that America is now viewed by many as a “complex patchwork of distinctive communities” (1995, 65). Critics are especially exercised by what they perceive as the rejection of the English language as symbolic of American identity and a common means of communication. In particular, they lament advocacy of bilingual education and express strong concern regarding the specter of the persistence of Spanish among Latinos. Morris Janowitz perceived support for bilingual education asamong Latinos....
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- Spring '11
- School types, Ethnic group, bilingual education, Parochial school