The English for the Children Initiative. The proposition with such a kind-sounding name supports an unkind concept.

Polls now show that support is slipping for Proposition 227 — the measure also referred to as the Unz initiative after its creator, Silicon Valley businessman Ron Unz.

There are many worrisome issues about this proposition.

Basically, it says all children in California would be taught English in English. Those learning the language would be placed in “sheltered English immersion” not intended to exceed a year.

U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley had this to say: “I am against Proposition 227 because of the short time frame in which it would provide support for limited-English proficient children.

“Children learn English at different rates and in different ways. That is why more than 25 percent of all current federal grants for bilingual education support all English programs implemented in an educationally sound manner. But we know that one year is not sufficient for the vast majority of children.”

That phrase, “the vast majority of children,” is important.

Sometimes we get hypnotized, homogenized and anesthetized by our circumstances.

All children are not skipping off to computer workshop and violin and being feverishly tutored and monitored by their college-educated parents after school.

There is no way to ignore the socioeconomic situations of many children who have limited English proficiency. In addition, English-only locks out the immigrant parents who want to help with homework, but may also just be learning English.

The unkind truth is, the Unz initiative says that after a year of being taught English — only in English — the children would receive no further help with it and could be dumped into a regular curriculum.

Who among us could be fluent in a language with just a school year of instruction? Most of us had two years in college and we still can’t 8-7555; e-mail [email protected] .



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