Original URL:  http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/election/article/0,1299,DRMN_36_1527205,00.html

Massachusetts dumps dual-language classes

By Associated Press
November 6, 2002

Voters in Massachusetts said adios to the state's bilingual education law Tuesday, replacing it with a controversial initiative similar to Amendment 31 on Colorado's ballot.

Question 2 gives non-native English speakers one year to learn English before they are moved into regular classes. Current law allows for up to three years.

"I would hope that a big victory in a state like Massachusetts would help galvanize this as a national issue," said California businessman Ron Unz, who funded the initiatives in Massachusetts and Colorado and was in Massachusetts to watch the
ballot returns. He also funded similar measures that passed in California in 1998 and in Arizona in 2000.

The initiative requires students to be taught all classes in English.

A teacher could use a student's native language only to help explain a complex theory. Students would then be tested in English.

As does Amendment 31, Massachusetts' initiative allows parents to sue teachers, administrators and school committee members personally for violating the law and teaching in a native language.

No one has been sued so far, Unz said.

Lawmakers concerned about the ballot initiative this summer revamped bilingual education by giving schools more choices in programs but with strict state oversight.

The goal was two years and out, with a third year if necessary.


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