Proposition's author campaigns in Fresno

Silicon Valley businessman Ron Unz — who is enjoying strong public support for his anti-bilingual ballot initiative — doesn’t plan to coast to victory.

Unz was in Fresno Tuesday to talk with news outlets about his “English for the Children” proposition.

The initiative would dramatically steer California’s bilingual programs away from teaching children for several years in their home language. Instead, it would have students taught in English for one year, and then put in regular classes with bilingual assistance.

Recent polls show overwhelming support for the initiative: 69 percent in one recent statewide survey.

“The polls are showing that most parents want their children speaking English as soon as possible and we are going to see that it happens,” Unz said.

If the initiative passes on June 2, the changes would begin next fall.

Bilingual educators and many school districts, including Fresno Unified, have denounced the initiative as shortsighted and unrealistic.

Bilingual educators say it takes five to seven years for limited English speaking students to become fluent in English.

The Unz initiative will be included in a Monday story about the Commission on the Future of Education in Fresno County. The Bee is looking at each of six areas the commission studied in a recent report on education. Monday’s article will focus on the commission’s ideas for bilingual education.

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