A Schools Gestapo?

EDUCATION: State school officials use tactics of intimidation to bring local school boards in line with bilingual-education iedology.

I would like to congratulate School Board President Mike Verrengia of Westminister for having the courage to verbally express the frustration and disgust many school board members and administrators have felt when dealing with the State Department of Education’s bilingual-education department [“Communist crack wasn’t merrily taken,” Gordon Dillow column, Metro, July 15].

Delaine Eastin publicly criticized him for calling the department “a merry bunch of commies. ” However, I believe his anger is justified, given the current and past hostile attitude held by this department toward philosophically dissident school districts.

The department’s utilization of threats and intimidation have for two decades forced districts to comply unwillingly with primary-language instruction methodology versus English immersion and ESLtechniques.

This state bilingual-education department enforces a single ideology through lies, misinformation, requirements of “thousands” of pages of wasted paper and hours of time to request waivers, and the existence of a hit-list of dissident districts.

I believe the department’s single-minded ideology has resulted in the denial of the civil rights of thousands of Hispanic students to acquire an English education comparable to those of their peers of other native languages. Bilingual-education ideologues believe Spanish English-learners are incapable of learning English until they master their own native language. This standard, however, only applies to Spanish-speaking students, both native-born and immigrant alike.

Although the department may not be “a bunch of merry commies,” as Michael Verrengia asserts, its threats and Gestapo-like tactics of intimidation are insidious actions practiced widely in both communist and fascist countries alike. This type of behavior from a public entity has no place in democracy.

By the way, Delaine Eastin’s threat to sue Michael Verrengia for his derogatory remarks is a reflection of the state Department of Education’s continuing intent to keep local elected officials in line. Last time I checked, our right to freedom of speech was still protected in this country. Or did I miss the changing of the guard?

Are we still a free country, or has Old Glory been lowered permanently in California?

Katherine L. Venturoso
City of Industry
Ms. Venturoso is president of the Board of Education of the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District

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