June 14, 2006

English Immersion Ballot Proposal Approved

Well, we can't demand they speak English if they aren't taught the language--this applies to immigrants here legally:
DENVER -- The state Supreme Court has upheld the wording of a proposed ballot initiative that would require English-immersion classes for students still learning the language, clearing the way for backers to collect petition signatures.

English for Colorado, a Weld County-based group that includes county commissioner William Jerke, wants to ask voters in November to mandate up to a year of immersion classes for students who aren't proficient in English before they join mainstream classrooms.

English Plus, a group that helped defeat an English-only initiative in 2002, had challenged the wording of the proposal, saying it did not clearly state how restrictive it is.

The Supreme Court ruled last week the state's Title Board, which passes judgment on the language of ballot issues, acted properly when it approved the wording.
The truth, however, is that the vast majority of non-English speakers to this state among the student population are native Spanish speakers, which includes not too few children of illegal immigrants:
About 98,000 public school students in Colorado are classified as English language learners, said Barbara Medina, director of the English Language Acquisition Unit of the state education department. Although the students speak a total of 143 languages, 86 percent have a Spanish-speaking background, she said.
So five of every six English-deficient students speak Spanish as a primary language, and aside from native born children of Americans who speak Spanish, or those here legally, a good number of those (over 84000) are children whose legal status, or those of families, are in question. If some form of amnesty, guest-worker, or citizenship path is approved, the likelihood that most if not all of these students will remain here to adulthood as legal citizens--by birthright or legalization--then it is in their best interest as well as ours to raise their English proficiency to fluency levels. They will benefit through access to better education and employment, and America through assimilation of its new citizens. No one cares what language is spoken at home or among family and friends, but English is the de facto if not de jure language of the land, and this would certainly be a step in that direction.


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