TUSTIN, CA—Gloria Matta Tuchman may have lost her bid for state superintendent of schools, but she vows she will continue her campaign to end bilingual education in California.
She will next seek political office in November. This time it will be to retain her position as a member of the Tustin Unified School District Board of Education. She has been a school board member for nine years.
“This is not the end. This is just the beginning,” said Tuchman, a first-grade teacher at Taft Elementary School in Santa Ana. “I’m going to do something about bilingual education, to end it and overhaul it. Nobody wants to touch the issue. ” Tuchman, who grew up in Arizona after her parents moved from Texas, has been a zealous foe of bilingual education, which requires that immigrant students be taught entirely in Spanish using Spanish-language textbooks.
The 52-year-old teacher said she believes it’s better to immerse students in English, helping them along the way with classes in English as a second language.
“I do not believe in the sink-or-swim method,” she said, noting that she occasionally speaks Spanish in her classroom. “But bilingual education delays the learning of English, pure and simple. “
Among 12 candidates, she came in fifth statewide, garnering 8 percent, or 294,029, of the California votes and 10 percent of the Orange County votes.
“Running for the Tustin school board is different from running for a statewide office,” she said. “You have to network up and down the state. And money is a deterrent. “
In her campaign, Tuchman raised $ 75,000, but took no money from political action committees or textbook publishers that wanted to promote their books. Her biggest contributions, she said, came from her parents, who raised $ 1,000 for her, and her mother-in-law, who loaned her $ 5,000.
Assemblywoman Delaine Eastin, D-Fremont, was the front-runner in the race; she raised more than $ 200,000.
Tuchman’s battle to end bilingual education began nine years ago when a school principal told her she had to teach her bilingual classes in Spanish.
“I asked the question, ‘Why? ‘ He said, ‘Lady, if you don’t like it, go change the law. ‘ And that’s what I’m doing. “
She was appointed to the National Advisory and Coordinating Council for Bilingual Education in 1987. She formed the Campaign for California’s Kids, which was instrumental in 1992 in getting Gov. Pete Wilson to veto the California Language Minority Education Act requiring most California schools to provide bilingual education.