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Probe, May 30, 2002

May 30, 2002

QUESTION: A kid at Brawley Union High School stole several tests from an English teacher. He then sold them to other students. He quietly transferred to Desert Valley Continuation School. He says he will be back at the high school in the fall. Why is this so hush-hush? It sounds like he's getting some special treatment at good ole Brawley High. — Seeking Openess, Brawley

It wasn't all that hush-hush. We got two letters, one from you and another from a friend pleading for mercy for the boy, claiming he just wanted to be in the "in crowd."

It seems likely to us that he didn't "quietly'' transfer to the continuation school but was sent there as punishment for his crime.

He may be getting some special treatment but keeping his name out of the newspaper is not one. We seldom print the names of juveniles, even if they are arrested for felonies.

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We hope he will be back in regular high school next year and that he gets his life back on track.

NEW PATHWAYS IN BRAIN — This is in response to the person who wanted Spanish classes for English-speaking children. Your column addressed only bilingual education for Spanish-speaking children and Spanish classes for adults.

Study after study has shown the benefits of learning a second language early in life. Learning a second language creates new pathways in the brain that can expand learning ability and intelligence.

The problem is the benefits come from learning a second language before the age of 7, with the most important time from infancy to 3 years old.

Spanish-speaking children benefit when they go to school where they are immersed in English. There is no similar opportunity for English-speaking children to learn a second language.

I am in the process of searching for and hiring a qualified bilingual or Spanish-speaking teacher for Spanish classes for ages 2 to 5. There would be pre-school-type classes in singing, art projects, storytime, etc., all in Spanish. My child has taken such classes in San Diego and they are wonderful.

If your readers would like to receive information packets, they may e-mail me at hkuhn@inreach.com or call me, Heidi Kuhn, at 353-2669. — Language Enthusiast, Seeley

Your idea sounds wonderful to us — and expensive.

The parent looking for an English to Spanish class wanted something like what Spanish-speaking children get when they go to school, something cheap and effective.

We addressed bilingual classes for Spanish-speaking children only to point out the programs are being scrapped in favor of the "sink or swim" approach.

Circumstances rule out "sink or swim" Spanish in Imperial County schools because local kids speak English in an English-speaking world. You can only duplicate the "sink or swim" experience if you drop the kids into a world where nobody speaks English.

Once the Spanish-speaking child comes to the United States, he or she is wrapped in English. The kids can't escape it. It's everywhere.

In search of "sink or swim," some local parents enroll their kids in Mexicali schools. We hope they will let us know how to do it — and how their children fare in Mexican classrooms.

LOOKING FOR LYRICS — I forgot to send you the music lyric Web site address. Sorry about that. http://ntl.matrix.com.br/pfilho;summer.html — Music Man. e-mail

Thank you.

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