Bilingual education backers celebrate donation
$3 million fights Amendment 31
By Brent Boyer
Special to The Denver Post
Monday, September 30, 2002 - A boisterous crowd of more than 200 Amendment 31
opponents laughed and cheered at a campaign meeting Sunday, just days after
learning a $3 million donation would finance much-needed television and radio
"Right now, what that donation has done is given us that extra energy," said
English Plus campaign manager Monolo Gonzalez-Estay. "The $3 million will allow
us to get information out to Colorado."
Sunday's meeting, attended by Amendment 31 opponents from across the state, many
wearing 'No on 31' buttons and T-shirts, began with a mariachi band and roaring
applause when campaign workers were introduced.
"It's an enormous day for the campaign," Gonzalez-Estay said. "We're not just
going to be pushed aside by a California millionaire who's not a parent and not
a teacher," she said, referring to Ron Unz, the California businessman who
co-authored the proposed amendment.
Pat Stryker, a Fort Collins resident and mother of a Harris Bilingual Immersion
School student, donated the money. It is believed to be the largest contribution
from an individual to an issue campaign in Colorado history, independent
pollster Floyd Ciruli said.
"Pat Stryker lives in our community and she's a very generous philanthropist,"
said Denise Walters, whose 7-year-old daughter is learning Spanish at the Harris
school. "Like us, she favors the value of educational choice."
Amendment 31 seeks to ban bilingual education in public schools, instead placing
Spanish-speaking children in a nine-month English-intensive program. After that
period, the children would be placed in English-speaking classes.
English Plus advocates call Amendment 31 a one-size-fits-all plan that
eliminates parental involvement and choice in their children's schooling.
Supporters of the amendment say existing bilingual programs hurt rather than
help Spanish-speaking children.
"What we call bilingual education is almost only all-Spanish," Unz said Sunday.
"If the goal is to help immigrant children be successful, you have to teach them
Unz, who has financed similar successful campaigns in California and Arizona,
said "there's no way in the world" he could match Stryker's donation, while he
acknowledged the donation to English Plus "can have a considerable impact on
"We haven't spent a dollar in advertising," he said.
Rita Montero, who authored Amendment 31 along with Unz, said the money will make
"But we believe there is a solid group of people who know that bilingual
education has been a failure," she said.
The English Plus campaign had little more than $100,000 before Stryker's
donation. Campaign co-chairman Gully Stanford said the substantial donation does
not guarantee a victory on the Nov. 5 ballot.
"They're still winning," he said. "But we've pushed them down and we're going to
push them over."
The first of three anti-Amendment 31 television ads was to begin airing Sunday
night, Gonzalez-Estay said. Ads also will be produced in Spanish.