PLAINVILLE—The state should phase out bilingual education and stop printing government documents in any language but English, says Helen Bergenty, Republican candidate for the 22nd House District seat.
Bergenty said if she is elected, she will propose such a bill that would make English the state’s official language.
“Our forefathers had to learn English. Now [immigrants] can become citizens without even learning the language,” Bergenty said Tuesday.
Congress is now considering a bill that would make English the nation’s official language, require that all business of the federal government be conducted in English and repeal statutes that mandate bilingual education and multilingual ballots.
Seventeen states have adopted legislation makeing English their official language, said a spokesman for English First, an advocacy group based in Springfield, Va. Alabama residents overwhelmingly voted in a 1990 referendum to make English the state’s official language.
In Connecticut, former state Sen. Thomas Scott, who is running for governor, first proposed an English-only bill in 1987.
The bill was opposed by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, which said such measures encourage bigotry, divisiveness and resentment toward minority groups and abridge the rights of non-English speaking people.
Bergenty said the state is wasting millions of dollars printing documents such as driver’s tests and ballots in Spanish and offering bilingual education in schools.
Bilingual programs teach children in their native language, as well as in English. Generally, students are taught in bilingual classes until they can take tests in English.
“They are catering to the Spanish,” she said. “We have to put a stop to it. We have to go back to the good old American way.”
Bergenty, pointing to a survey summarized in an article in The American Legion magazine, said some Hispanic parents prefer that their children not be taught in Spanish.
But Bergenty’s opponent in the race, Democrat Elizabeth Boukus of Plainville, said she isn’t certain eliminating bilingual programs is a good idea.
Boukus said that although she doesn’t think children should be taught in languages other than English for a prolonged period, bilingual programs in school are necessary to acclimate students.
“I’d hate to see children in school with no way to communicate,” she said. She added that providing government documents in Spanish is also important, in some cases.
“You need to support constituents whoever they are,” she said. “But everyone should as quickly as possible learn the language.”