San Francisco vs. English

Earlier this week, the San Francisco Examiner carried a front-page story on the continuing efforts of the San Francisco Unified school district to avoid testing their potentially low- scoring immigrant students. San Francisco is now the only remaining school district in California that continues to refuse to implement Prop. 227, and perhaps uncoincidentally, it is also the only school district that continues to refuse to test the academic achievement of immigrant students.

San Francisco has a long history of refusing to follow those state or federal laws with which it disagrees, and thus often seems to regard itself as not really being part of the United States. This particular testing law was overwhelmingly passed in 1998 by the Democratic State legislature with the strong support of Speaker Cruz Bustamante, signed into law by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, and is now strongly supported by Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. San Francisco’s non-compliance has already resulted in state fines of $640,000, with further millions of penalties and legal fees on the horizon. And as the article points out, many immigrant parents are surprised and angry when they learn that their children are not being tested.

San Francisco administrators argue that it is cruel and unfair to test children in English if they have only just recently arrived in our country, but official state statistics indicate that 98% of the students in question have already been in California schools for at least a year, and most have lived in California all their lives. A good column by Joanne Jacobs of the San Jose Mercury News discusses the informal efforts by other school districts to persuade parents to opt- out of having their children tested.

The San Francisco administrators do claim to be willing to test all immigrant children who have been in their school system at least three years. Interestingly enough, this places far-left San Francisco to the “right” of conservative Texas, in which about half of all Hispanic students are apparently excluded from being tested in English, REGARDLESS of how many years they have been in Texas schools. One would think that such obvious and massive educational fraud in Texas test scores would be of interest to certain Democratic candidates, but apparently the “success” of Texas bilingual programs are an “official truth” that cannot be questioned by anyone within the Democratic Party. Maintaining the sacred myth of bilingual education is more valuable than political victory.

On a happier note, the LA Times carried another story on the continuing success of the adult English literacy programs established by Prop. 227. Near the end of that campaign, this program because the primary target of vicious attacks funded by the billionaire owner of Univision, A. Jerrold Perenchio, who has obvious motives for preventing immigrant adults (and children) from learning enough English to begin watching English- language television.

Finally, I will be spending this election night at the Phoenix Airport Marriott with the other supporters of our Prop. 203 initiative. Although we are (again) being massively outspent by the No campaign—by an approximate ratio of 10-1 in advertising—we (again) expect to win, perhaps by even a wider margin than in California. The Arizona campaign is also receiving considerable national media attention—I yesterday taped a segment for the NBC Today Show which should air in the next day or two. Perhaps if we win another solid victory, national politicians will finally gain the courage to do what is right and support the teaching of English to immigrant children in public schools.

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