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Deukmejian Veto of Bilingual Bill

October 12, 1986

I am appalled by the actions of our governor and his callous disregard for the needs of many people, especially people coming to Los Angeles, which is now considered the new gateway to our country.

Your paper reported that there are 40,000 people seeking classes where they might learn the English language. And these people were thwarted by the fact that our governor has not supported the bilingual education bill and actually vetoed it.

The governor's cutback of support to the community colleges has also prevented those colleges from satisfying the vast demand for classes in English as a Second Language (ESL).

Our own Los Angeles Community College District has had to cut back opportunity for our students. This year we could have easily established anywhere from 100 to 150 more classes in ESL. The reason we can't, of course, is that the governor cut back the funds that were earmarked for the community colleges.

Recently the whole country celebrated the centennial of the Statue of Liberty. We heard many noted citizens, among them Chief Justice Warren Burger, Lee Iacocca, Frank Sinatra, and others tell us what coming to this country had meant to their immigrant parents and grandparents. What it meant to gain acceptance, to be given an opportunity, to become American citizens.

Their efforts were made self-evident by their progeny, by the fact that their sons and daughters and grandchildren could say they had become a Supreme Court justice or a governor of California, outstanding figures in American society. They are living proof that a minimal investment in our newly arriving immigrants always pays off handsomely. Their success assures the future of our country.

The self-proclaimed friend of education, Gov. George Deukmejian, would deny opportunity to those who need it most. As he piles up a billion dollars in reserves and perhaps even more, he cuts back on the basic legacy of any people--education. For as we know, we cannot be free without education; if cannot speak the common language, we cannot understand. Thus, if in ignorance you cannot defend yourself, how can you ever hope to defend this country?

ARTHUR D. AVILA

Van Nuys

Avila is president of East Los Angeles College.

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