Prop. 58 interview - input?

Hi all,

  I'm scheduled to do an interview on Monday with a local radio reporter (public radio station KALW, 91.7 FM) about the Libertarian Party's position on Prop. 58 (bilingual education). We've recommended a "no" vote on the measure, a position I fully support and feel I can speak to, but I just wanted to see whether anyone has any points they think would be good to make regarding our opposition. I know we didn't spend much time on most of the ballot measures, and I don't recall any specific discussion on Prop. 58.

  Here is my basic argument against the measure:

• The Libertarian Party is the most pro-immigrant party in the United States – we defend the rights of noncitizens of the U. S. to seek work, trade, and live within this country, just as we defend current citizens when they wish to exercise these same rights, and oppose the forced imposition by government of English (or any other language) as the official language

• Libertarians support school choice – we want students and parents to have a wide a range of educational choices, including independent schools and homeschooling, that offer many different educational paths and programs, so that if a student wants bilingual education, that option will be available

• Unfortunately, California currently has a state-run government school system, funded by stolen taxpayer dollars, which is largely run in a top-down manner with a one-size-fits-all curriculum, in which families who do not actively pursue an alternative option are compelled to participate under threat of legal penalty

• The problem is that no single educational institution like this can be all things to all people

• Given that most experience and research tends to suggest that language immersion programs are most effective for learning English as a second language, and what most immigrant parents want for their students, current law, as established by California voters in 1998 with Prop. 227, mandating English immersion as the default method of instruction for students under age 10 but allowing various exemptions and waivers, seems like as reasonable an approach as we are likely to be able to have in the current flawed system

  I'll also mention that in trying to learn Spanish myself as an adult, I personally chose a Spanish immersion program (although it was only for a few weeks).

  If the reporter characterizes Prop. 58 as simply allowing more bilingual education as a choice, and asks why we wouldn't support that, I'll note that the educational establishment (administration and teachers' unions) tend to have an institutional bias in favor of bilingual education, and without the accountability protections for students and parents provided under current law that Prop. 58 would get rid of, educators would favor and push such programs at the expense of English immersion learning.

Love & Liberty,
                                 ((( starchild )))
At-Large Alternate, California LP Executive Committee
                              (415) 625-FREE

You have some very refined and elegant arguments. You succinctly present the libertarian viewpoint. However,you might need "sound bites" for a radio interview rather than a monologue.
I agree with every point you brought up. Here are some more issues you might mention:

Prop 58 specifically strikes this sentence, a scientific fact, from the CA Constitution:
"Young immigrant children can easilyacquire full fluency in a new language, such as English, ifthey are heavily exposed to that language in the classroomat an early age."
In fact, young children even in their own country, will easily acquire a language by immersion -- just from the other kids, in fact. Adults cannot learnso easily. For children, the challenge is making sure they don't forget their first language; immigrant families should insist on speaking theirlanguage at home so the kids will respect it and become bilingual adults.

Prop 58 requires an "engagement process" and "soliciting input" from parents. Such vague words have no force of law; they mean nothing.The administrators might ask parents what they want, but the bureaucrats will then do whatever they please. Politicians write laws this wayto keep citizens from voting against them and campaigning for change. They want activists to waste their time pleading with minor officials.

    Prop 58 also makes it optional for districts to teach "non-English languages", ( [sic] it uses those actual words!). So if you have a lotof Spanish-speaking families you might get a Spanish program -- "China Towns" might have Mandarin. Learning languages is great.But why don't we all get to learn? The State requires this education, forces the kids to attend, and forces the parents to pay for it.The least the State can do is treat us all equally, as the 14th Amendment requires.

So-called "Bilingual Education" sounds inclusive. Supposedly, it helps "minorities". But what it really means is that a monolingualteacher can get rid of those five or six Hispanic kids in her typical classroom who would need some extra attention. They have their owncommunity, of course, and know many bilingual adults and children who could translate for them. On the other hand, there may be justone child in the school who speaks Arabic. That kid won't get a program even though she is isolated and could use it most, if anybodycould.
Every student in California should learn some Spanish -- after all, we are here in "San Francisco", not "Saint Francis".

Harland HarrisonCandidate for Sequoia Healthcare District Board

Thanks, Harland. Sadly, I think your comments about "engagement process" and "soliciting input" are spot on. :slight_smile: And the point about the specific sentence about learning fluency being stricken could be useful to mention. I'm not sure making it optional to teach "non-English languages" is new though. Don't districts have the option of teaching such languages now?

Love & Liberty,
                               ((( starchild )))

Thanks for doing this interview, Starchild. Glad the LPSF voted NO on this obvious attempt to keep "English learners" forever in their palace. Parents decision? How many parents are involved in decision making in government schools? I came to the US with pretty much no English ability, enrolled in a tough government school in the deep South (no fooling around there in my days), had no clue what was going in the first couple of weeks, and was on the honor roll within a semester. Nothing unique; happens all the time in today's parochial schools. Kids are resilient. If allowed to bloom, they bloom. If kept confined by teachers' unions seeking job security, they remain static.

BTW, I am not understanding whether Prop 58 is comparing the current few top schools offering language immersion (where English speakers can choose a language immersion program) with non-English speakers being taught in their own language and taking forever to become proficient in English. If so, you might want to point out that is a truly false comparison.


Thanks, Marcy. I don't think the LPSF has taken a position on it though – I was referring to the Libertarian Party of California Executive Committee's vote. I'm not sure I understand what you're recommending in your second paragraph; could you spell it out more clearly? The text of Prop. 58 by the way can be found here:

  It is listed as Senate Bill 1174 because it got on the ballot by being passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor; because it overturns parts of Prop. 227, which was passed by voters, it won't go into effect unless voters approve it.

Love & Liberty,
                                ((( starchild )))

Hi Starchild,

You are correct. Just because CA LP took a particular stance, does not mean LPSF did too.

Regarding my mentioning the language immersion programs that exist right now, I was talking about the choice parents have right now to take an active role in applying for language immersion. The program specifically requires each parent to make the choice.

Some of the better government schools are language immersion schools, because of active parental involvement as demonstrated by the fact that the parents bothered to make a choice in the first place. Claredon and De Avila are good examples.

Prop 58 might want to come off looking like all schools would be like Claredon and De Avila. It goes on and on talking about the need for people to be multilingual in a globalized environment, but the purpose of Prop 58 is not to teach kids several languages (which can be done right now via the current program), but to put in place programs that teach kids in their native language. Which did not work pre-Prop 227!

I have not read Prop 58 closely enough to know whether parents can opt out and have their kid in English-only classes, or they are forced to take whatever is decided in "community meetings." We all know what these community meetings are like: the plan is presented, folks speak, and the plan is implemented width no change.


Marcy D. Berry
Business Services
Tel: (415) 586-6214
Fax: (415) 651-9558