To no one’s surprise (well, maybe the California Teachers Association got a bit of a shock) supporters of an “English for the Children” referendum seeking to end bilingual education programs in California have now gathered enough signatures to guarantee the issue a place on the ballot in June, 1998. In fact, the 700,000 signatures collected were almost twice as much as required (433,296) to put a referendum before the people.

That augurs well for the vote itself. And so does the fact that a recent Los Angeles Times poll showed 80 percent of California voters in favor of the plan to drop unsuccessful bilingual programs and teach academic subjects in English. And even more Hispanic Californians (84 percent) support the idea than do non-Hispanics (80 percent). That’s hardly surprising either, since it is the education and future success of Spanish speaking children that is put at risk by programs in which they fail to learn the language they will need in order to make it in America: English.

Doubtless, teachers unions interested primarily in protecting members who specialize in providing bilingual education will pull out all the stops over the next six months to portray the referendum as an anti-Hispanic, anti-education measure. Hopefully, California citizens won’t be taken in.

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