Give it to Me Straight! I Swear I Won’t be Mad!

I have an American friend (same guy as in this earlier post) who lived for a number of years in Mexico.  He married a Mexican woman, and while he always spoke to his kids in English, their real first language was Spanish.  He recently moved back to the U.S., and he enrolled his oldest daughter in kindergarten.  The school gave her some kind of language evaluation, and they concluded that she was slightly behind in English, and said they would like to give her some kind of limited special instruction if her parents wanted it.  My friend and his wife were inclined to go along with what the teachers thought, but they wanted to know the answers to a few common-sense questions: how behind was the kid really, was what they would do for her during the special instruction time really worth giving up whatever she would miss in the regular class, and so on.  The problem was, they were having a hard time getting any straight answers out of the teachers, and they were pretty sure they knew why: these very nice, well-meaning teachers were so worried about offending them that they couched every answer in a million caveats and weasel words.  My friend said he said he was dying to say something like: "I hereby unconditionally vow not to sue you, hate you, or speak or think ill of you in any way.  Now will you please just tell me what’s going on with my kid?!?"

Don’t get me wrong: that hyper-sensitivity comes mostly from a good place, and I certainly don’t want to go back 50 years when a kid like that would just be thrown in the deep end of the pool.  But come on!

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