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Thoughts on Bilingual Education

July 12, 1986

The bilingual education controversy is not news. The news is the Assembly's approving its extension for another six years without reviewing its merits. I think the Assembly members approved the extension not because they believe it works better than other methods but because they felt politically safer going along with the groups that favor bilingual teaching and make a lot of noise when they don't get their way. Anybody voicing the English-only program is crushed by the thunderous yell of "discrimination!"

There is no other country in the world with a school system that teaches its language to a wider variety of foreigners than the U.S. system. Still, special interest groups use the word discrimination because they know it is politically effective.

Another term these people use to brand the English-only program is divisive , a hallowed word that even the county supervisors are now using.

I believe that the state should make every effort to promote English literacy in the most direct way, and the most direct way is an intensive course in English.

Furthermore, the claim these people make that the cultural values of an ethnic group would be lost if we adopted English as the official language is just one more excuse to get their whims. We are not saying that Olvera Street, Little Tokyo and Chinatown should disappear from the map. All we are saying is that the children there should, for their own benefit, be fluent in the language used by most people in the state.

I would like to hear the voters' opinions, bringing the problem to the polls in November. Perhaps the most effective way to persuade Gov. George Deukmejian to veto the present bill would be by swamping him with letters bearing surnames like Sanches, Perez, Ferrari, Morelli, Cho, Wong, Andersen, Tamashiro etc.



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