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Ron unz against bilingual education in arizona

Then in 1998, Ron Unz backed the successful Proposition 227, which replaced bilingualism with "English immersion" in California's public schools. He followed up with a similar victory in Arizona in 2000.

  1. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this page for free, noncommercial distribution, provided that credit is given and this notice is included.
  2. Should Decide School Issue — Why should out-of-state money be dismantling Arizona's education policies — especially when those policies are working?
  3. Research shows that students need three or more years to become sufficiently fluent in English to participate successfully in an English-only curriculum.

This year, he's aiding anti-bilingual education initiative campaigns in two more states. Unz is a former theoretical physicist turned Silicon Valley software entrepreneur. He paused recently to answer UPI's questions about his new campaigns. Which states are next for your movement? Over the last eighteen months, I've worked with local activists in Massachusetts and Colorado to put similar measures on the ballots of those states.

According to a number of polls by the local media organizations, both these measures stand excellent chances of passing this November. What's so bad about knowing two languages? Learning two languages is nice, but what we all "bilingual education" is actually Spanish-almost-only instruction in our public schools. If millions of children in America never learn how to read or write or even speak English properly, our country could be in big trouble. What evidence do you have that your English immersion alternative works?

The test scores from California seem to have conclusively proven the case to anyone with an open mind. Over the past four years since the passage of Prop. Furthermore, the test scores of English-learners not in bilingual ed are up to three times higher than those in districts that kept their bilingual programs despite the law. One neutral observer said he believed English immersion would work better than bilingualism for immigrant children who arrive before puberty, when the brain is flexible and learns new languages easily.

But, foreign students arriving from puberty onward would benefit from bilingual education so they don't fall behind in their studies.

English for Children (Arizona Proposition 203, 2000)

How do you respond to this? I would generally agree with this, though I think there's considerable evidence that English immersion is also somewhat better for these older students as well. But what most people fail to realize is that there are actually very few of these older students.

Over half of America's limited-English students were born right here and most of the remainder arrived when they were very young, so the vast majority of English-learners start our schools at the age of five or six, when English immersion is most effective. Massachusetts is a famously liberal state.

How well do you expect to fare there? Right now, the situation looks very, very good. Most of the local media coverage in the very liberal Boston Globe and other publications has been very even-handed or even favorable. And various polls show our support in the range of 65 percent to 75 percent, with just 25 percent opposition.

Although we certainly expect these numbers to tighten before Election Day -- especially if the "No" side can put together a major advertising campaign -- I think we have an excellent chance of winning a clear victory in one of America's most liberal Democratic states.

  • Shouldn't the language strengths of these students be nourished and seen as a strength?
  • Repeal of Existing Law The initiative repeals Title 15, chapter 7, article 3.

Who are your local allies? Contrary to what one might expect, I usually receive almost no help or support from local Republicans or even conservative organizations. Nearly all the core local activists who have assisted me in these campaigns have been Latinos and individuals from an immigrant background, often also liberals or leftists.

With your successful track record in California and Arizona, you must have professional politicians knocking down your door wanting to hop on your bandwagon, right? Nope, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have generally been willing to go near the issue, though that may now be starting to change.

Remember, there's no organized special-interest group behind "English," so it doesn't provide campaign contributions. And most politicians are nervous about getting near an issue perceived as ethnically charged, so they mostly run and hide until the shooting is over.

How did you decide to devote so much of your life to opposing bilingual education? Actually, I first campaigned to get involved in the California "English" campaign, and given its huge success, naturally assumed that it would quickly spread nationwide with my assistance.

Q&A with Ron Unz on bilingual education

Unfortunately, both the Republicans and the Democrats are too nervous and intimidated to get behind this issue, so it's quite apparent that if I didn't stay involved, nothing would happen. Just after winning his primary, Bill Simon called to ask me to attend one of his fundraisers, and I was out of town that day. That's the last I've heard from him.

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  2. Moreover, the initiative requires administration of a nationally norm-referenced test, or a test based on national standards regarding subject matter and content.
  3. The second lesson is somewhat counter-intuitive.

Since Simon never even bothered voting the year that Prop.