Bilingual-ed amendment needs clear title, says court

A proposed constitutional amendment virtually banning bilingual education needs a clearer title before it can get on November’s ballot, the state’s top court said Monday. Proponents and opponents of the measure both said the ruling will help voters understand what they’re voting on.

The initiative had been challenged by educators who believe it would violate Colorado’s system of local control.

The court left that up to voters, but sent the measure back to the board that writes titles for initiatives, saying their last effort was confusing. Voters might not realize the measure would let schools deny native-language instruction even when parents ask for it, for example.

“While it is the proponents’ right to advance such a measure, the titles must properly advise the voters of the operation of the measure,” the court said.

Proponent Ron Unz, a California businessman who has led similar initiatives to victory in California and Arizona, said he found that objection reasonable and might ask the title board to just use the court’s words as a revised title.

Opponent Lorenzo Trujillo also said the important thing is that voters know what they’re getting.

“They have to rewrite what they’re doing, and they have to make it honest and clear,” said Trujillo, an educator and lawyer who is a member of English Plus, a group fighting the Unz initiative.

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