Letter to LULAC

By: Mary Lydia Lerma Matta Garza
Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Times
August 17, 1997.

Members of LULAC and Susie Flores:

Are you overlooking or have you forgotten the inauguration of the pilot project of LULAC's "Little School of the 400" in 1957? It was specifically designed to acquaint non-English, preschool children with 400 basic English words prior to entering school. This program ultimately served as a model for "Project Headstart."

In some areas you are allowing Bilingual Advocates to teach Headstart instruction to non-English speaking children in Spanish, the opposite of the intent of the "Little School of the 400."

My late husband Dr. George J. Garza, Past National President of LULAC 1950-52, was instrumental in implementing the Little School of the 400 and would have been appalled by the outcome of this program. English was LULAC's dream for promoting education and giving Hispanic children a headstart before entering school!

You state that "LULAC believes in higher education and have continued to back up that belief with scholarships and educational programs for our youth," but nearly a third of young Hispanic students are high school dropouts.

LULAC should be advocating and supporting the "English for the Children" proposed initiative in order to allow our Hispanic children a chance to mainstream in our schools and function in our society and not become school drop-outs, as we enter the 21st century.

LULAC, you need to review the aims and purposes of your organization's original constitution, especially the paragraph which states:

"Foster the acquisition and facile use of the official language of our country that we may hereby equip ourselves and our families for the fullest enjoyment of our rights and privileges and the efficient discharge of our duties and obligation to this, our country."

My family is proud to support the efforts of my daughter, Gloria Matta Tuchman, Co-Chair of the English for the Children campaign. It is not English-only, but ENGLISH LITERACY for the children. We are proud of our heritage, culture and yes, we are bilingual.

One for All and All for One!

Mary Lydia Lerma Matta Garza
Past 2nd National Vice President of LULAC, 1955-56