Politicians and bilingual education activists blasted a state
senator’s plan to scale down bilingual school programs as an “anti-
immigrant” policy and vowed to defeat the measure on Beacon Hill.

“What we ought to be doing is putting the appropriate tools in
place to hold the 51 districts with bilingual programs accountable,”
said State Rep. Antonio F. Cabral (D-New Bedford). “This bill is just
a front for anti-immigrant propaganda.”

But California entrepreneur Ron Unz, who spearheaded the
Proposition 227 referendum campaign, disputed those charges and said
California has seen test scores of bilingual students jump 20 percent
in less than a year.

“Why would anyone oppose raising the test scores of bilingual
students?” Unz said at a State House press conference. “I don’t
understand how immigrant students in Massachusetts would be any
different than their peers in California?”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Guy Glodis (D-Worcester), and his
supporters pledged to take the issue to voters in hopes they would
come out much like Californians, who passed Proposition 227, the
model for the Glodis bill.

State Rep. Mary S. Rogeness (R-Longmeadow) said she would join
Glodis and other critics of bilingual education in the referendum
effort because she believes the state’s 29-year-old regulations have
failed students.

“It’s not that these children can’t learn, it’s that they are not
being well taught in order to function in our classrooms and in our
society,” said Rogeness.

The Glodis bill would dismantle the state’s bilingual education
laws, known as Chapter 71-A, under which students can spend three or
more years in Transitional Bilingual Education programs, where they
learn subjects in their primary language as English is gradually
introduced.

Following the guide of Proposition 227, English learners would
spend one year in a “structured immersion” class and then be placed
in mainstream courses as long as they developed a “working knowledge
of English.”

There would be a few exemptions, giving parents the option of
keeping their children in the program for more than one year. At a
parent’s request, exemptions could also be made for special needs
students and children older than 10.



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