Proposition 227 was approved by the voting electorate of California by a significant margin, 61 percent to 39 percent. I find it interesting, however, that many people who supported the Unz Initiative do not even have an expressed need for English language support or assistance programs.
The Limited English Proficient (LEP) student population of the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) constitutes 72 percent of the total student population of 53,000 primary and secondary students. This population participates in various instructional programs, including the Bilingual Transitional and English Immersion Programs, to bring it to English language fluency. The SAUSD has the highest percentage of LEP in proportion to its total enrollment of any other school district in the stale. The SAUSD, as most, respects parental choice. This means parents have the right to choose the instructional program they believe best suits the language needs of their children. This right is presently under extreme assault by Prop. 227 and its proponents.
The most revealing voting statistic highlighted after the June 2 primary election was the vote tendency of the new citizen, the first generation immigrant, who has a specific expressed need for the English language assistance programs operated by the SAUSD and other districts throughout California.
Seventy-one percent of the new citizen voters, whose native language is not English, voted against Prop. 227. This statistic mirrors the Limited English Proficient students of the our district, 72 percent.
The Board of Trustees of SAUSD serves this constituency. We must be dearly mindful of this and hold ourselves accountable to it.
I call upon the opponents of Prop. 227 not to give up the fight.
Thomas Jefferson repeatedly counseled against the tyranny of the majority and worked politically and tirelessly against such tyranny. The passage of the Unz Initiative represents such a tyranny of the majority voter over the language minority students.
As president of the Board of Trustees of SAUSD, I have lent my name as a declarant to the lawsuit filed in federal district court in San Francisco to challenge Prop. 227. This lawsuit requests a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent its implementation.
The lawsuit claims that LEP students, who are considered national origin minority students, are denied equal educational opportunity.
It also asserts the proposition violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination on the basis of national origin with respect to any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. It further establishes that it violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution a denial of equal protection.
We may expect that these and other legal challenges will be pursued vigorously on behalf of both language minority students and their parents. In addition, there is every reason to believe that the legal challenges will be partially or totally successful in the federal court system. This is the natural pursuit of legal recourse to an unjust law that portends disastrous consequences for the non-English speaking student. It is their constitutional right to pursue such a remedy.
However, this is just one form of challenge to an awful assault on the constitutional rights of language minority children. I personally applaud those students and teachers that have already protested publicly their dissatisfaction with the passage of Proposition 227.
I personally encourage students, parents, and teachers to use every legal means at their disposal under the U.S. and California constitutions to resist implementation of Prop. 227. This has already manifested itself in student strikes, walkouts, boycotts and teacher declarations of commitment not to implement an unjust law.
Certainly, parents have the option to refuse to submit to an unjust educational system by not cooperating with the system as advocated eloquently by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Voter registration, education and mobilization campaigns are excellent and immediate responses to the impending threat posed by 227.
Mr. Lopez is president of the board of trustees of the Santa Ana Unified School District and national co-director of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional.