English for the Children is the cry that you hear over and over again by parents, most especially by Latino parents, such as in Santa Ana recently. Such was the cry of the Ninth Street Latino parents in Los Angeles a few years ago, which led to the birth of Prop. 227, the English for the Children initiative.
The courage it takes for these parents to stand up and challenge the bureaucracy is commendable! They fight for their children?s civil right to learn English and ask their school board members to be held accountable for their children?s progress.
In the three years since the passage of Proposition 227, the test scores of California?s English learners have nearly doubled as a result of replacing the failed bilingual education system with intensive sheltered English immersion.
What has happened in Santa Ana Unified School District? Students are failing, low-test scores continue, the State Department of Education?s Committee investigated the district?s English learner programs and the School Board is still wringing their hands wondering how to solve this problem.
It doesn?t take a genius to figure out that if children are going to take an annual state mandated test in English, then students must be prepared and taught in English. That isn?t the case for many children who are placed in transitional bilingual education.
Bilingual education is alive and continuing to fail many students in Santa Ana. Following the passage of Prop. 227, we have school board member Nativo Lopez holding parent meetings at school sites, telling parents about the merits of bilingual education and convincing them to request parental waivers for this program. We have had the majority of the Santa Ana School Board Members allowing him to conduct such meetings, even though it might be viewed as unethical and coercion of parents.
Real education reform requires vision, high expectations and courage to implement programs that will improve student test scores, unfortunately that is not occurring at low -performing schools in Santa Ana. Accountability and responsibility seem to be foreign words that people these days don?t take seriously.
As Co-Author of Prop. 227, I want to express my outrage that Gov. Gray Davis has allowed his appointees to the California State Board of Education to try and implement regulations that would effectively restore the state?s failed system of bilingual education by nullifying crucial provisions of the 1998 ballot initiative that dismantled that program.
Under these new regulations, Proposition 227?s requirement that younger English learners spend the first thirty days of each school year in an English immersion program would be eliminated. Furthermore, the proposed regulations would grant bilingual education teachers and school administrators the right to initiate the waiver process in support of bilingual education for English learners instead of the parents!
We need a governor that will enforce and uphold the laws of the State of California and not be a party to undermining the rights of parents!
Didn?t Gov. Gray Davis tell us when he was elected, that he would uphold the laws of the state of California and specifically stated that he would see that Proposition 227 would be upheld?
It is unfortunate that once someone is elected, they soon have a lapse of memory and once again, people are deceived by promises, promises.
I hope voters won?t have a lapse of memory at the polls in November and elect someone who will put parents back in charge of our schools and honor school choice for their children if the school system or their elected officials fail them!
Gloria Matta Tuchman, Teacher/Co-Author of Prop. 227
Ms. Tuchman is an elementary-school teacher in Santa Ana and was co-author of Proposition 227, the successful initiative that severely restricted bilingual-education programs in California?s public schools.