Denver Schools' Bilingual Feud Could Spur Convention Boycott

Denver Public Schools’ battle over bilingual instruction could cause 6,000 convention visitors to boycott the city next year. Officials from the National Association for Bilingual Education spent this weekend in Denver to determine whether they will hold their four-day conference next January at the Colorado Convention Center.

Karen M. Garcia, sales manager for the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, who escorted the Washington, D.C., group around the city, said she needs to know the group’s plans soon because she has a waiting list of people who want to use the convention center at the same time. Association officials met Saturday with the local group, Padres Unidos, which is working with DPS to strengthen the district’s bilingual program. Paul E. Martinez, an executive board member with the national association, said he is impressed by the involvement of educators, activists and parents with Padres Unidos. The national organization gave Padres Unidos a $ 5,000 check. Advocates of bilingual education and DPS officials are divided over how best to instruct children who speak little or no English. The dispute intensified last August when the U.S. Department of Education notified the district that a two-year investigation had concluded that DPS discriminated against Spanish-speaking students by not providing them resources to get a proper education.

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