Here's my open letter in response:
These language columns drive me insane so I'm just e-mailing for the record on why they are so wrong.1. Let's start with the premise that education is about training people for a good job as the column presumes, since it argues for Spanish on practical grounds.Some representative anecdotes. We have three graduates of Local High School's class of 2006. One got a nursing degree and found a job in that field. The other got a useless B.A. in Classics and can't find a job. One didn't get any advanced training but he knows Spanish. (He may or may not be Hispanic.) He works at Wal-Mart part time or something.
What's the difference between these three people? Well, one has technical skills. One has no skills. And one has Spanish, which isn't exactly a great skill. Now if you're advising a young person on how to spend their time to secure a good job do you tell them to get the nursing certificate, or maybe a minor in computer programming or do you tell them to learn Spanish?
2. Suppose there are two languages in a country, A and B. Learning the minority language has negative externalities because it makes it easier for the minority language speakers to hold on learning the majority language. In the long run that is bad for everyone because you can get a two-language equilibrium (e.g. become Quebec). Why is that bad? One, you waste time and money printing signs. Two, more importantly, its bad for social capital because you create a natural way for people to divide themselves and have civil strife.I know it sounds harsh but here's the reality for Hispanics: the faster they assimilate the faster people will stop hating them. The faster Americans learn Spanish, the slower they assimilate (and maybe Americans become marginally more tolerant). Who benefits?