Despite the overwhelming popular support for “English” in an endless series of highly-credible public opinion surveys, http://www.onenation.org/2000polls.htm, America’s quivering mass of timorous politicians seems reluctant to explore that issue. Most political leaders, despite the words that constitute that description, regularly shun leadership on any controversial issue, preferring to follow in the precise footsteps of the first individual who safely crosses a minefield. No candidate wants to be the first to stand for “English,” but when one is found, ten thousand candidates will achieve a photo finish for being the second.
The foolishness of such cowardice was recently underscored by an interesting race for an at-large seat on the Denver School Board. The entrenched incumbent, Les Woodard, had every conceivable advantage, including the powerful weapon of well-funded and well-organized union support in a low- turnout, vote-by-mail off-year race. Yet Rita Montero, leader of our Colorado English for the Children campaign, who had never before run city-wide, came in second in the three-way vote, holding the incumbent to less than 50% of the vote. This result was all the more remarkable since Rita was not even a candidate, having decided against running but been unable to remove her name from the ballot.
Last week, Colorado’s “English” campaign gained considerable additional momentum as two former members of the Denver School Board joined Rita at a press conference to announce their support, and the official Title Board rejected the attempts of opponents to prevent the measure from reaching the voters.
At both these events, the No campaign was chiefly—in one case solely—represented by its official statewide leader, a Mr. Gully (presumably short for Guilford) Stanford— Anglo-Irish actor, prominent figure in performing arts community, and self-proclaimed European Democratic Socialist, who serves on the Colorado State Board of Education.
At the press conference, Rita translated the angry words of Lupe Martinez, a Mexican-born mother of four, who denounced the terrible harm that Spanish-almost-only bilingual programs had inflicted on the education of her children.
Rita, a decades-long ultra-progressive Hispanic activist and early candidate for the controversial La Raza Unida party of the 1970s, recounted how her own direct experience with the actual reality of these programs had transformed her original support to fervent opposition.
Faced with these powerful charges, Mr. Guilford Stanford— the only advocate of bilingual education present— denounced the entire English for the Children of Colorado campaign as being without local roots, further alleging— in his strongly upper-class Anglo-Irish accent—that it had been created by a single “carpetbagger” from California, yours truly. Presumably the world atlas of European Democratic Socialists indicates a hitherto undiscovered geographical proximity between the British Isles and land-locked Denver, Colorado.
- Bilingual-education foe places in school board race
Denver Rocky Mountain News, Wednesday, November 7, 2001
- Bilingual education foe gets support
Denver Rocky Mountain News, Saturday, December 1, 2001
- Bilingual-education flap a step closer to ballot
Denver Rocky Mountain News, Monday, December 3, 2001