Bilingual Ed. Research
Who Is Ron Unz?
Email from Unz
on Unz (defunct)
for Bilingual Education
Center for Multilingual,
the Children (defunct)
Issues in U.S. Language Policy
Initiative in California
INITIATIVE PASSES, 61-39%
Campaign Finance Reports:
for and against Prop. 227
Life after 227: The Struggle Continues
Campaign Archives: News and Editorials
"End bilingual education in California by June 1998." That's the
slogan of a new ballot initiative entitled English for the Children. It could
become a reality unless an effective opposition can be mounted.
In November 1997, California's Secretary of State certified that
anti-bilingual activists had collected at least 510,796 petitions from registered
voters – more than enough to qualify the measure for the June 2 primary ballot.
The campaign is led by Ron Unz, a Republican candidate for governor
in 1994 and a multimillionaire software developer, who plans to dig deep
into his own pockets and spend whatever it takes to get the measure passed.
If he succeeds, the results could prove disastrous for California's
1.4 million students with limited English skills. Though confusing and poorly
drafted, the Unz initiative will benefit from public
misunderstanding of bilingual
education – its rationale, methods, goals, and results – and from a climate
of xenophobia that has dominated the state's politics in recent years.
Yet Ron Unz is not just another immigrant-basher. To the contrary,
he made a name for himself as a conservative opponent of Proposition 187.
His Only-English campaign is targeting California's Latino communities,
capitalizing on discontent with the public schools and seeking to make bilingual
education the scapegoat. Expensive ads promotiong the initiative are appearing
in Spanish-language media. Some alleged advocates for immigrant rights, along
with a few Asian and Latino politicians, have already signed on.
Nevertheless, in a recent fundraising letter, Unz did not hesitate
to exploit crude ethnic stereotypes. He compared today's Spanish speakers
unfavorably to his own Jewish grandparents, "who came to California in the
1920s and 1930s as poor European immigrants. They came to WORK and become
successful . . . not to sit back and be a burden on those who were already
here!" (Los Angeles Times, 31 August
Cochair of the initiative is Gloria Matta Tuchman, a 1st grade
teacher from Santa Ana and another would-be politician – who finished 5th
in the 1994 race for state superintendent of public instruction. While eager
to advertise her Mexican American roots, Tuchman has been less forthcoming
about her ties to the English
Only movement. She joined the U.S.
English board of directors in 1989 – shortly after the scandal over its
memo about Latinos – and served until 1992.
So far, however, this campaign remains independent of the established
English Only groups. Its agenda is even more extreme than their attacks
on bilingual education over the years. At minimum, the initiative would:
- outlaw the use of languages other than English to instruct any
student in California public schools, except under limited circumstances
– a restriction that harkens back to Meyer
- dismantle successful programs that not only teach English
but also keep children from falling behind in other subjects while they acquire
valuable bilingual skills;
- impose an unproven pedagogical approach – "sheltered English
immersion ... not normally intended to exceed one year" – without regard for
the expertise of educators or the wishes of local school boards;
- violate children's civil rights, as guaranteed by Lau
v. Nichols, to receive effective help in overcoming language
barriers that impede their access to the curriculum;
- deny parental choice by restricting waivers to the English-only
rule to older or "special needs" students, and even then failing to guarantee
that native-language instruction would be available;
- limit options for English-speaking students to learn another
language, by requiring them to score above grade level in English to receive
- destroy what is widely hailed as the most effective language-learning
model for English- and non-English-speaking students alike – two-way
- invite civil lawsuits to enforce the English Only mandate
and hold teachers and administrators personally liable for such "crimes"
as using another language in class; and
- stimulate yet another round of ethnic conflict in California,
already polarized by anti-immigrant and anti-affirmative-action Propositions
187 and 209.
Full text of the initiative statute
Voter Information Guide on Prop. 227
A media project to combat the Big Lie
About the notorious Los
Angeles Times polls
University of Southern California poll
Analysis by James Crawford, Stephen Krashen, and
An email exchange with Ron Unz
Who is Ron Unz? 1994 campaign profile
The Unz Initiative:
Extreme, Irresponsible, and
by James Crawford
for the National Association for Bilingual Education
bilingual education legislation in California
Commentaries on the Unz
Concern or Intolerance: What's Driving the Anti-Bilingual Campaign?
San Jose Mercury News, 31 May 1998
The Ninth Street Myth: Who Speaks for Latino Parents?
Hispanic Link News Service, 25 May 1998 (en español)
Analyzing the Impact
Responding to Unz-Supported
Stephen Krashen, University of Southern
Researcher's View of Unz
Unz Tuchman Proposal: A Bad Idea
Notes on the Unz
The Dropout Argument
Note on Greene's "Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Bilingual Education"
to the Los Angeles Times, 25 May 1998
John Espinoza, Los Angeles Unified School
from a Bilingual Teacher
defensa de la educación bilingüe
Jack D. Forbes, University of California,
Prop. 209 Deliver a Knock-Out Blow to "English Only"?
Olga Amaral, San Diego State University,
and Emily Palacio, Calexico Unified School District
Vote No on Proposition 227
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational
Analysis of the Unz Initiative
Council of Great City Schools
Costs of the Unz Initiative
Northern California Coalition for Immigrant
Education: A Tool for Equal Opportunity
California Church IMPACT
Response: Public Statement on Prop. 227
Clinton Administration Position on Prop. 227
News Archives on Prop.
on Prop. 227
What Research Says
about Bilingual Education
Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Bilingual Education, by Jay P.
Greene, University of Texas at Austin – New review of the literature takes
a more rigorous approach to research cited by Rossell and Baker, with dramatically
different results: LEP students in bilingual education significantly outperformed
their counterparts in English-only programs. Just released by the Tomás
Rivera Policy Institute.
Note on Greene's "Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Bilingual Education,"
by Stephen Krashen, University of Southern California – Greene's study "should
have a profound impact on the field." While the meta-analysis reports positive
findings for bilingual education, it still may have underestimated the benefits.
- Bias in Polls on Bilingual Education: A Demonstration,
by Stephen Krashen, James Crawford, and Haeyoung Kim – Different questions
yield different opinions on the Unz initiative.
Adversarial Discourse: Searching for Common Ground in the Education of Bilingual
Students, by Jim Cummins – Presentation to the California State Board
of Education in response to Christine Rossell, Keith Baker, Rosalie Porter,
and other academic critics of bilingual education.
- Bilingual Education:
A Focus on Current Research, by Stephen Krashen
and Misconceptions About Second Language Learning (Digest),
by Barry McLaughlin
- Evaluation of English
Language Development Programs in the Santa Ana Unified School District,
by Douglas E. Mitchell, Tom Destino, and Rita Karam
Videos Now Available
James Crawford vs. Ron Unz: Debate
on Prop. 227
Santa Rosa, California
March 31, 1998
90 minutes; $15 postpaid; checks payable to:
Dr. Guillermo Rivas
Sonoma County Office of Education
5340 Skylane Blvd.
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
How Will It Affect Our Children?
12-minutes; designed to help inform the public about the potential impact
of the Unz initiative
Language, Learning and Proposition 227
30 minutes; for house meetings, group discussions, workshops, or anyone
interested in teachers' perspective on bilingual education and the Unz initiative.
This page was last updated on June 3, 1998.
For current developments on the impact of and resistance to the
anti-bilingual initiative, click on Life after 227.
Copyright © 1998 by James Crawford. Permission
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