Opponents and supporters of Proposition 227 urged Santa Ana Unified School District trustees Tuesday to see their views on the initiative.
“You must answer to the children,” said Edmundo Cardenas. “(Prop. 227) is unfair and un-American.” Board president Nativo Lopez has publicly announced his opposition to the initiative, approved by voters this month, that requires all students be put in English-immersion classes within 60 days. It would affect about half of the district’s limited English students –those who currently are being taught in their native language.
Lopez wants trustees to approve filing an amicus brief in federal court to block its implementation. The cost to file the brief is estimated at $10,000. No vote was taken on the item. It will come back for more discussion July 27.
“I feel it is a misuse of funds,” said resident Sal Juarez. “You have the duty to protect the law not the opposite.” “We’ve got to prepare the kids,” Trustee Rosemarie Avila said. “This initiative will help us.”
Lopez said the majority of Hispanic voters in Santa Ana opposed the initiative, which he said fails to address the unique needs of the children in the district.
“Don’t give up the fight,” Lopez said. “We have a constitutional right to express ourselves.”
A committee that studied district dropout rates, using the 1994 freshman class, found a 19 percent dropout rate for Hispanic students. The national rate for Hispanics is 30 percent. The district is looking to lower the numbers through “high expectations” from parents, students and staff, improved methods for tracking attendance and accountability.
The district has a $296 million budget for the 1998-99 school year. Staff estimates having about $4 million more in reserve than required by law.
The next board meeting is July 14.