November 2002 in Colorado?

I recently spent a day in Denver meeting with local activists eager to support a 2002 “English for the Children” ballot initiative closely modeled after our successful efforts in California and Arizona.

Such a campaign would likely be led by Rita Montero, a past member of the Denver Board of Education and Colorado’s most prominent anti-bilingual education activist.

Once a supporter of bilingual ed, her own son’s dreadful experience in the local program led Rita—a strong-minded Hispanic activist with roots in the National Lawyers Guild and the Raza Unida Party—to spend frustrating years struggling to roll-back or reform the program, and now at last come around to the necessity of dismantling it entirely.

At one of the meetings, an immigrant mother from Peru told the heart-rending story of how she had been forced years earlier to sell her own house in order to pay the private school tuition necessary to have her children taught to read and write English instead of Spanish. That woman now assists other immigrant parents in their struggles to rescue their children from these “voluntary” Spanish- almost-only programs.

With local supporters of such commitment and stories of such impact, I strongly suspect that Colorado’s statewide system of bilingual education will fall in November 2002.

The Denver Rocky Mountain News carried a nice column on the subject, which I am attaching below.

P.S.  My previous Note carried a brief mention of the mammoth disaster that California’s 1996 electricity deregulation scheme has inflicted on my state. A number of free- market enthusiasts took sharp issue with this, complaining that the problems stemmed from the partial nature of the deregulation, a fact I fully admit. However, I would argue that this is a huge and general problem with deregulation/privatization schemes— America’s S&Ls, Russia’s privatizations— which are often captured by politically- powerful special interests, who understandably seek a disastrous combination of the privatization of profits and the socialization of losses. Thus, in California, the utility companies crafted a “deregulation” plan intended to ensure them exorbitant profits at the expense of the consumer; but which has unintentionally driven them to the edge of bankruptcy and the state into blackouts. Until privatization advocates can convincingly explain how this design risk can be avoided in the future, their credibility will sink toward zero.

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