News &  Editorials

Initiative Text

Colorado Secretary of State, Elections Center

English Plus
(No on

Proposition 203 (AZ)

Proposition 227 (CA) (Ron Unz)

Amendment 31
 Anti-Bilingual Initiative in Colorado

  FAILED, 44% - 55%, 11/5/02


Ron Unz has now taken his medicine show to Colorado, peddling the same brand of English-only snake oil that he sold to voters in California and Arizona. Heading the effort, known as English for the Children of Colorado is Rita Montero, a former member of the Denver School Board. She is also a former Chicana activist who, in the 1980s, was prominent in opposing English-only measures and, in the 1970s, was linked to a group of radicals who died while allegedly trying to manufacture bombs.

Unz's Colorado initiative – as yet unnumbered – is far more draconian than California's Proposition 227 and even more restrictive than Arizona's Proposition 203. Like those measures, the Colorado initiative would:

  • require public schools to replace bilingual instruction with an unproven “structured English immersion” approach "not normally intended to exceed one year";
  • assign virtually all English learners to classrooms taught “overwhelmingly in English,” regardless of their individual needs, the advice of professionals, the wishes of local school boards, or the choices of parents;
  • allow "waivers" of the English-only rule, but only under very restrictive circumstances;
  • invite lawsuits against educators and public officials who fail to observe the English-only mandate to hold them personally liable for financial damages and banish them from their jobs for at least 5 years; and
  • mandate annual, English-language achievement tests for all public school students – with no exemptions on the basis of limited English proficiency.
      Worse than its Arizona counterpart, the Colorado initiative would:
  • make "any school district employee" – i.e., any teacher as well as administrator or school board member – subject to litigation for violations of the law;
  • force parents seeking bilingual instruction to reapply for waivers "each and every school year" – after students have spent 30 "instructional days" in English-only classrooms; 
  • order schools to "report as zero" the scores of students who do not take the required English-language achievement tests, with exceptions allowed only for children who are "classified as severely learning disabled"; and
  • outlaw bilingual instruction in the Colorado Constitution – making it impossible for the state legislature to repeal or amend the English-only mandate.
For more information, visit the web site of English Plus:

News Clips & Editorials
(no endorsement implied)


  • A Bigot by Any Other Name – "In Unz's incredibly narrow world view," the substance of Rod Paige's arguments about English-only mandates don't matter – only his race.
  • Denver Post, 21 July 2002
  • So Shut Up, Coach – Editorial challenges Unz's argument that African-Americans, such as U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, have a poor "grasp" of the bilingual education issue. 
  • Rocky Mountain News, 18 July 2002
  • Bilingual-Ed Foe Chides Unz's Remarks – Rita Montero, leader of the English-only campaign in Colorado, claims that "the issue to us is not about race, it's about language." Unz has footed the bill for Montero's group, supplying about $130,000 so far.
  • Rocky Mountain News, 18 July 2002
  • Bilingual Foe's E-mail Slams Education Chief – Unz questions the intelligence of the "black former football coach" who opposes his English-only initiative.
  • Denver Post, 17 July 2002
  • Education Chief: Keep Bilingual Option – U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige criticizes Unz initiative for overriding local control of schools. 
  • Denver Post, 13 July 2002
  • Activist for English Immersion Injects Feud into Arizona Race – Unz blasts back at Paige. In a letter to supporters, he accuses the "black former football coach" of being "the dimmest member of the Bush Cabinet," who owes his job to "Affirmative Access."
  • Arizona Republic, 16 July 2002
  • Bilingual-Ed Fight Closer to Vote – Colorado Supreme Court approves revised ballot language. The story quotes Boston University political scientist Christine Rossell as a "moderate" who approves of dual immersion (also known as two-way bilingual) education. It fails to mention that Rossell is a cosponsor of Unz's initiative in Massachusetts, which would outlaw such programs there – just as in Colorado. The "good cop/bad cop" routine still seems to work with credulous journalists.
  • Denver Post, 19 June 2002
  • Bilingual Plan 'Misleading' – Colorado Supreme Court invalidates "English for the Children" ballot summary for failing to explain the severity of restrictions it would impose on parental choice. Unz must now redraft the initiative's "title" and seek approval from state officials before he can begin circulating petitions. To qualify the measure for the November ballot, he needs to submit 80,571 valid signatures by August 5.
  • Rocky Mountain News, 9 April 2002
  • Unz Willing To Pay for Bilingual Ed Fight 
  • Denver Post, 22 June 2001
  • Bilingual Ed Might Wind up on Ballot
  • Rocky Mountain News, 20 June 2001
  • Bilingual Fray May Go to Ballot
  • Denver Post, 20 June 2001
  • Educating Rita – Former school board member Rita Montero, now leading Unz's campaign in Colorado, found herself in 'explosive' times in the seventies.
  • Westword, 7 June 1995

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