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Response from Bret Lovejoy to news coverage of Oregon Measure 58

To the Editor:

Your recent item concerning the Measure 58 question to be voted on by Oregon residents in November should cause concern among citizens who support the concept of language learning and multilingualism in particular.  Even in today’s challenging circumstances, this issue is too important to allow economic considerations to prevail.  One critical by-product of passage of Measure 58 would be the elimination of the language immersion programs that have proven so successful in schools around the U.S., particularly those at the K-6 levels.  There is now overwhelming research and experience that substantiate the academic, cognitive, cultural and societal benefits that are a product of language learning, benefits that accrue at a faster rate the earlier students begin their language exposure.  The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) represents language educators across the country and around the world, professionals dedicated to enhancing every student’s educational experience.  Certainly, giving non-English speaking students adequate instruction in English is important.  However, research indicates that abrupt loss of the first language of immigrants at an early age interrupts overall language development and may lead to weakened function of language in the learning process.  Beyond that is the invaluable experience that ALL students gain from learning together … and from each other … in a multilingual environment.  Your state’s proximity to the Pacific Rim magnifies the importance of being ready and able to interact and do business with those nations.  Oregonians have an opportunity, by rejecting Measure 58, to demonstrate to all Americans that they understand and are willing to invest in a curriculum that will not only enhance the learning experience, but will prepare students for meaningful, rewarding roles in society at the end of their school careers.

Bret Lovejoy
Executive Director

Tuesday, October 24, 2006