Disclaimer- this is my opinion not that of my school nor my school district. It's not meant to be a slur on bi-lingual teachers. All bi-lingual teachers I've encountered have been caring, dedicated and go far and above the normal call of duty. One even writes a mean blog. And many are as frustrated by the system and it's results - or lack thereof as I am.
And on that note...let the rant begin......
We, like many schools have many, many students for whom English is not their first language, thus we have a bilingual program. The object is to teach the child in their native language so they can easily transistion to learning in English. Often it works, sometimes it doesn't.
When it doesn't the results are depressing to the extreme. The bulk of the students in the fifth grade bilingual classes are native born Americans. Yet, on the average their writing and reading level in English is that of a 2nd or 3rd grader and their conversational English isn't much better. They have been together since PreK, they are completely inbred and rarely make friends outside their own classroom. There are number of double retainees, meaning they are 2 years older than their peers - 12 going on 13. Many of these kids have multiple strikes against them - terribly dysfuntional home life, undiagnosed learning disabilities, families who don't value education, no motivation,no inner drive, parents who don't speak English and don't think their children need the skill either.
The result is- kids who drop out as soon as they can (if not sooner) and go forth into the world basically illiterate.
I don't know what the solution is, but the present system isn't working.