House panel kills English immersion bill
By The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 29, 2003

A House committee today killed a measure designed to alter the state's bilingual education program by requiring two years of English immersion for non-English-speaking students in public schools.

Without the bill, supporters of last year's failed amendment to dismantle bilingual education likely will make another effort in 2004, Rep. Richard Decker, R-Fountain, said.

The House Education Committee made the decision after hearing from numerous residents with children attending dual-language schools, where students learn English alongside native English speakers.

The parents said they feared Decker's bill would eliminate their ability to choose to have their children educated in such schools, and that it would force segregation of nonnative English speakers.

They also argued that there was no clear evidence to prove English immersion was more effective than other methods of teaching English.

Decker's bill - House Bill 1135 - would have required two years of English immersion, twice the length allowed by Amendment 31, which voters rejected in November.

Decker said problems with that ballot initiative included the fact that it would have amended the state Constitution and that it would have allowed parents to sue teachers whom they disagreed about their child's education.