Original URL:  http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/300/metro/The_issues+.shtml

After the bilingual-education ballot initiative
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff, 10/27/2001

Republican Mitt Romney is in favor of English immersion as it would be implemented under the Unz initiative,
calling the state's current bilingual education system a ''failed experiment.'' He plans to vote for the ballot
measure, but says he would work with the Legislature to repeal the portion of the initiative that would allow
parents to sue teachers who instruct in a language other than English, a notion that he finds ''punitive and
unnecessary.'' Still, the Legislature could push to repeal the entire law next year, and Democrats have enough votes
to easily override gubernatorial vetoes.

Democrat Shannon O'Brien supports giving
the overhaul of bilingual education passed by the Legislature earlier this year a chance to work, rather than replacing
the system with English immersion for all children.

The new law, passed in August in an attempt to head off the Unz measure, allows schools to pick from six methods of
teaching English, or to devise their own methods. It also requires annual assessments of student progress and lets the
state step in if a school district is deemed to be ''underperforming.''

But although O'Brien opposes the Unz initiative, she has declined to say publicly whether she would work to strike the
entire measure from the books. She has, however, committed to eliminating the provision that allows lawsuits against
teachers, and would work to allow state takeovers in districts that fail to teach students to learn English.

All government central planning of education should be eliminated, according to Libertarian Carla Howell. She
would give all power over education to local communities and parents, though she has vowed to fully implement the
Unz initiative if it passes.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein opposes the Unz ballot question because she believes that the education of
non-English-speaking students should be left to individual school districts and parents. She would also support the
repeal of provisions allowing teachers to be sued and would ''repeal or modify any element that was found to harm
students,'' although she has not committed to specific actions.


This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 10/27/2001.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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