Orange County Register

Thursday, September 24, 1998

How Gates Kept Dual Languages
By JOHN GITTELSON, The Orange County Register

Gates Elementary mobilized the day after Proposition 227 passed, seeking to save the dual-immersion program from the law that requires almost all instruction in English.

The school won the battle, but leaders of the Yes-on-227 campaign didn't like it. Now the school has become a November campaign issue, pitting the wishes of parents against the will of voters.

State Superintendent Delaine Eastin granted requests by Gates and Las Palmas Elementary in San Clemente to become alternative learning centers.

Gloria Matta Tuchman, the Santa Ana teacher who co-wrote 227 and is running against Eastin in November, said the waiver circumvented the law and defied the 61 percent of voters who backed 227. Tuchman said a wave of schools, including traditional bilingual programs, could now seek similar exemptions.

Eastin said Gates and Las Palmas justified their request by presenting rigorous evaluation plans and strong parent support.

Gates also received permission to become a charter school, which could also exempt it from 227.

"We'll do what it takes and what's legal to keep the program," Gates Principal Mary Jacks said.