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October 10, 1997

Mr. Ron K. Unz
English for the Children

Dear Ron:

I am glad to give my strong support to your initiative to provide California's immigrant children with an English-language education in the public schools, and to serve as Honorary Chairman of your campaign.

My views on this important educational issue are based on personal experience. As an immigrant from Latin America who arrived to the U.S. at 32 not knowing English, I struggled for several years in menial jobs until I could learn enough English to begin a professional career in this country. I know how difficult it is for an adult to learn a new language, and how important English is to economic advancement in America. It seems a real tragedy that in many cases our public schools are not teaching English to five-or six-year-old immigrant children, who are at an age when they could so easily learn the language.

I also believe that the bilingual education programs found in many California schools are a very poor substitute for English-language instruction. At Garfield H.S. in East LA, where I began my successful Calculus Advanced Placement program, I also worked hard to eliminate most of the school's bilingual education classes, which I felt were holding students back in their academic studies. I feel that my efforts against these misguided programs were an important contribution to the success of my Garfield students.

Although some California politicians seem to support bilingual education for various reasons, my own experiences as a teacher leads me to believe that these programs are a negative factor for most immigrant children, who instead should be taught English while they are young. I also think that most adult immigrants are eager to learn English, and that California would benefit if they were taught English as well.

Thanks for your efforts on this important project.


Jaime A. Escalante