English in Denver, Silence in Boston

As Colorado’s “English” initiative moves forward, its expected foes have grown strangely muted or even almost invisible.

As the attached article from the Denver Rocky Mountain News indicates, the role of sharpest critic has now devolved by default to one Gully Stanford, a Colorado state board of education member. As an individual employed in the performing arts industry, with a distinct British accent and a self-proclaimed ideological commitment to “European socialism,” neither Mr. Stanford’s knowledge nor his standing on the thorny subject of bilingual education is readily apparent. Perhaps he believes that since American schools properly teach the children of British immigrants such as himself in their family’s native language— English—those same schools should continue to teach the children of Mexican immigrants all their subjects in Spanish.

The very different personal background of Rita Montero, chair of the Colorado initiative campaign, has now attracted some attention of its own. The Washington DC-based leadership of America’s bilingual education industry had previously warned that a successful Colorado campaign might constitute a deadly “third strike” against their existence, following strikes one and two in California and Arizona. Having been completely unsuccessful in their past attempts to portray those measures as “anti-Latino,” their newly created Colorado web page (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepage s/jwcrawford/co-unz.htm) has adopted a very different and rather surprising tack, emphasizing Ms. Montero’s decades of involvement in leftwing Latino activism. Perhaps these well-fed educational appartchiks believe they can successfully demonize the leader of English for the Children of Colorado as a dangerous Chicana radical, thereby persuading gullible Colorado voters that requiring our public schools to teach Latino children represents a plot to subvert our government. If so, I doubt the success of this strategy.

In less heartening news, none of the many possible Massachusetts figures with both the standing and the stature to lead an initiative campaign has yet summoned up the courage to publicly come forward. It looks increasingly likely that tens of thousands of Massachusetts Hispanic schoolchildren will be remaining in Spanish-almost-only classes until at least late 2005.

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