The National Review

March 9, 1998

$500 Million to the Left

Deep in the innards of California's Proposition 227, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ron Unz's "English for the Children" initiative to abolish much of what goes by the name of bilingual education, is a $500-million handout to schools and "community organizations" for adult English literacy. This money, distributed over 10 years, would be administered by the state's education establishment -- the same people who brought California so many bilingual programs that Prop. 227 means to abolish.

If Unz intends to lure the California Teachers Association and "community organizations" (i.e., the Left) into silence with this taxpayer-funded giveaway, his ploy may be working. The CTA has committed only $750,000 to the fight. Polls show high levels of support for the initiative, including among Hispanics. But if anti-Prop 227 organizations are smart, they will run a campaign based on fiscal conservatism that cuts deep into Unz's basde of supporters. This is an unfortunate marriage of bad politics and bad policy in an otherwise worthy initiative.