Test in English or Lose Funding

The lead story in yesterday’s San Francisco Examiner recounted the substantial financial penalties suffered by San Francisco and other school districts which are refusing to test
immigrant children in English.

Although this testing requirement was not part of Prop. 227—it was passed by the state legislature under the looming threat of that measure—such tests help to properly evaluate the initiative’s impact. Although bilingual activists last year persuaded the overwhelming Democratic legislative majorities to dilute the requirement, Gov. Gray Davis vetoed the bill, demonstrating his political common sense. Perhaps the obvious popularity of English education issues may eventually spread to the Republicans.

Interestingly enough, a well-connected Democratic activist and fundraiser on my distribution list recently informed me that all the California Democratic elected officials with whom he’s privately discussed the issue now support the end of bilingual education. Although the reality may not yet be quite this unanimous, another year or two of 1999’s huge rise in test scores for California’s immigrant students, and support for bilingual-oriented education may begin to rank with support for leech-oriented medicine.

At some point, perhaps liberal Democrats will begin denouncing residual Republican support for bilingual education as proof of GOP anti-Latino racism.

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