MELANIA TRUMP is not the first immigrant US first lady; that distinction goes to Louisa Adams, John Quincy Adams’s English-born wife.
But the first lady back in 1825 no doubt had enough to do with keeping the alligator* out of the President’s Office; she probably didn’t have time to adopt a personal cause or project, as modern first ladies are expected to do. And here Trump has a unique opportunity to capitalize on her foreign roots.
The first-lady-to-be spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper about her concern over cyberbullying among children (yes, she acknowledged her discomfort with her own husband’s tendencies in that direction). But there’s a path that would be just as natural for her, and one that might smooth over some of the rough edges of president-elect Trump’s preoccupation with immigrants: ESL.
Yes, ESL, English as a Second Language.
Never mind that English is Melania Trump’s fifth language; her championing of ESL classes would cast a friendly spotlight on a discipline that is crying out for more teachers. Apparently 10% of students in American schools are in ESL programs, but less than 1% of public-schoool teachers can teach ESL. In some areas of the country, such as Texas and Florida, both of which awarded their Electoral College votes to Donald Trump, the need for such teachers is dire, according to the ESLTeacherED.org.
During the 2009-10 school year, the US Department of Education said, 4.7 million students were classified as English language learners, meaning they lacked proficiency in the language. Most education programs and policy are established at the state level, but the federal government makes grants to the states to help fund these programs.
Just by talking about the subject in the national spotlight, Melania Trump could have an early, and positive, effect on American life. In its own quiet way, an ESL project would underscore the sometimes-ignored fact that most of us Americans come from immigrant stock and had to learn the ways of our new land.
- No kidding: The Marquis de Lafayette presented the beast to President Adams in 1827. He(?) was kept in the guest bathroom. And there were other creatures: The first lady raised silkworms, for fabric.