Santa Ana divided on Prop. 227 plan

District officials, parents debate how best to notify families of their options.

Santa Ana Unified’s preliminary plan to implement Proposition 227, which essentially ends bilingual education for most students, drew both criticism and praise from parents at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The plan requires that parents be given written explanations of alternatives to English-only classes. The board president has proposed individual parent meetings to explain these alternatives. Reactions Tuesday night showed how deeply fragmented Santa Ana has become on the bilingual debate.

“Many of our immigrant parents are humble and ignorant and can be easily swayed by those with political agendas,” said Salvador Juarez of Santa Ana, who disagrees with the plan for individual meetings.

But parents such as Miguel Hernandez, who has two students in the district and supports the parent meetings, said a silent majority of parents will seek waivers once they are available.

“Parents have a right to be informed of their options,” Hernandez said. “They need to be informed that it’s not against the law to sign a waiver.”

Santa Ana board members will discuss the plan again on Aug. 25.

If the plan is approved, starting Sept. 1 about 36,000 Santa Ana students will shift from bilingual to English-only classes for a 30-day evaluation of their language skills. After that, parents can sign waivers to move children into an alternative like bilingual classes.

Waivers can be granted to students who are fluent in English; who are 10 years or older; or who have special educational, physical or emotional needs.

District officials say they don’t know how many waivers to expect.

“This is too important to make assumptions about the level and the clarity of our communication with parents,” said Santa Ana Superintendent Al Mijares. “We want to make sure they understand all the options and (that) they have a right to choose.”

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