Is “English” a Radical Chicano Plot?

The clearest sign of the growing desperation of America’s bilingual education industry, faced with an inexorable slide into the Trashcan of History, is the recent change in the preferred calumnies of its profiteers.

For decades, advocates of proposals to teach immigrant children English rather than Spanish in American schools have been routinely denounced as right-wing, anti-Hispanic xenophobes. The unfortunate fact that these serious charges were occasionally true made them all the more devastating in the far greater number of cases in which they were false. As a result, generations of politicians, Latino and Anglo alike, stayed in their political foxholes watching mutely as other generations of Hispanic youngsters failed to properly learn to read or write or even speak English, even while bilingual appartchiks grew fat off government contracts to preserve this misery.

With the beginning of the 1996 Latino Boycott against bilingual education in Los Angeles, these false images began to wear thin, and as the Boycott engendered the 1998 landslide victory of Proposition 227, thinner still. Soon other groups of grassroots Latino activists were organizing to overturn thirty years of educational disaster in Arizona, in Colorado, in Texas, and elsewhere throughout the country, with the dramatic rise of post-Prop. 227 immigrant test scores in California fueling this determination, and numerous national surveys of Latino adults overwhelmingly confirming its popularity. Denouncing “English for the Children” as anti-Latino has now become just too silly an argument for anyone to continue to make.

As a consequence, we find the Beltway’s shameless bilingual charlatans replacing their suddenly ineffective race-baiting with its 1950s predecessor of red-baiting, fiercely denouncing Rita Montero, the leader of English for the Children of Colorado as a dangerous Chicana radical. Somehow her latest devious schemes to violently overthrow our constitutional government involve English primers for first-graders named Jose and Maria.

The piece below, by Ruben Navarrette Jr., editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News and nationally syndicated columnist, effectively describes this current state of affairs, under the self-explanatory title “It’s Time to Dismantle Bilingual Education.”

Perhaps it’s also time for the politicians to leave their foxholes.


P.S. Thursday’s scheduled vote on campaign finance reform in the House of Representatives recalls my own sweeping California initiative of that topic, overwhelmingly defeated on the March 2000 ballot. Just as in the case of the McCain-Feingold legislation, Democrats proven notoriously willing to support reform only so long as they were sure that the Republicans would kill it for them; but when passage became an actual possibility, the masks came off, and Democrats became the leading opponents. I hope that McCain, Feingold, and their allies are not forced to soon publish the same sort of post-mortem that I did.

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