TWO YEARS AGO, MORE than eight out of ten seventh- and eighth-graders with limited English skills failed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills ( TAKS) test. Ninth- and tenth-graders did even worse. These depressing results occurred despite extensive bilingual and English as a second language ( ESL) programs and come at a time when the number of students with limited English skills—some 15.5 percent of the total public school enrollment—has doubled in the past two decades. And yet these students drop out of high school at twice the rate of their counterparts. This is a catastrophe in the making: the noneducation of tomorrow’s Texas workforce.
I would like to be able to report that state education officials are