A number of educational critics have recently been arguing that non-English speaking background (NESB) students are not disadvantaged in their participation in Australian education and that special-purpose programs, such as multicultural education programs, are founded on misplaced assumptions. In the first part of this paper we critically examine pre-suppositions that inform these arguments as presented by Williams, Birrell, Bullivant and Mistilis. In order to disprove the fundamental thrust of these new educational critics, we go on in the second part of this paper to marshall evidence in supportof opposing views.