San Diego Union-Tribune
Saturday, March 14, 1998
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Re: "Callers to U-T widely favor ending bilingual education" (B-1, March 12):
In reporting the results of its informal telephone poll, The Union-Tribune concluded that the public supports Proposition 227. But, as we at the University of Southern California have learned, if people were aware of what was in the initiative, they would be solidly against it. We asked 78 voters a question similar to the Union-Tribune's, and 76 others with similar backgrounds a modified question.
The similar question: "There is a new initiative trying to qualify for the June primary ballot that would require all public-school instruction to be conducted in English and for students not fluent in English to be placed in a short-term English-immersion program. If the June primary election were held today, would you vote for or against this measure?"
The modified version: "There is a new initiative trying to qualify for the June primary ballot that would severely restrict the use of the child's native language in school. This initiative would limit special help in English to one year (180 school days). After this time, limited English-proficient children would be expected to know enough English to do school work at the same level as native English speakers their age. The initiative would dismantle many current programs that have been demonstrated to be successful in helping children acquire English, and would hold teachers financially responsible if they violate this policy. If passed, schools would have 60 days to conform to the new policy. If the June primary election were held today, would you vote for or against this measure?"
In response to the first version, 54 percent said they would vote yes. In response to the modified version, only 13 percent said they would vote yes. This shows that support for 227 is likely to disappear once the public finds out what the Unz initiative really says.