BYLINE: Jim Moret, Charles Feldman
The White House is closely watching and vigorously opposing Proposition 227, a California ballot measure designed to dismantle the state’s bilingual education programs.
JIM MORET, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is closely watching and vigorously opposing a California ballot measure designed to dismantle the state’s bilingual education programs.
With more, here’s CNN’s Charles Feldman in Los Angeles.
CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than three million students in the United States have limited English skills. Almost a million and a half of them attend public schools in California.
If opinion polls are accurate, voters here this June will vote in favor of Proposition 227, a ballot measure that would dismantle bilingual education programs. Instead, students not proficient in English would have to take a one year crash course in the language.
Monday, the Clinton administration came out strongly in opposition to Proposition 227.
MICHAEL SMITH, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Proposition 227 ignores the individual needs of each child. Some children can’t learn to read in one year. Others require help in reading in the third grade and beyond.
FELDMAN: Looking beyond California, the White House is calling for setting a goal nationwide that would place a three year limit on the time most children could participate in bilingual programs. Some advocates of Prop 227 say the president is ignoring the will of the public.
ALICE CALLAGHAN, IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Every other issue politicians put their finger to the wind. On this one, President Clinton has put his hands in his pocketbook. What he has said is that those vested interests whose careers and financial future at stake on bilingual education who are able to fly to Washington and lobby him, buy tickets to his special dinners,
those are the voices he has chosen to listen to.
FELDMAN: Others argue that Prop 227 would tie the hands of local school districts in designing programs and they welcome the opposition from the White House.
THOMAS SAENZ, PROPOSITION 227 OPPONENT: I think that we’ve seen initiatives from Washington and particularly from this administration about education frequently and I think it is a recognition that this model, this idea of imposing one, mandated system of instruction is not one that should be followed.
FELDMAN: Various Clinton administration officials plan to visit California before June to speak out against Proposition 227.
Charles Feldman, CNN, Los Angeles.