Original URL: http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/election/article/0,1299,DRMN_36_1474860,00.html

Bilingual education measure losing favor

Latest poll shows Amendment 31 'not likely to pass'

By Nancy Mitchell, Rocky Mountain News
October 12, 2002

A proposal changing how Colorado schools teach children who speak little English is apparently losing favor with some voters.

More people still support than oppose Amendment 31, 48 percent to 36 percent, new poll results show. But support for the initiative, which would require that English learners spend no more than a year in English immersion before joining mainstream classes, has dropped 20 points since a similar survey was conducted in August.

"To slip that much in three months, I would say it's only got a  50-50 shot of passing at this point," said pollster Paul Talmey. "Unless the other side comes up with an awfully good campaign, it's not likely to pass."

The poll, conducted for the Rocky Mountain News and News4 by Talmey-Drake Research & Strategy Inc. of Boulder, shows that another 14 percent are undecided on the issue and 2 percent refused to answer.

Ron Unz, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who wrote Amendment 31, blames the drop on an advertising blitz begun late last month by the No on 31 campaign.

"In some ways, it's amazing we're still ahead, theoretically, in this poll," Unz said. "We still hope we can win, but it's going to be a very tough battle."

A $3 million gift to the No campaign from Fort Collins philanthropist Patricia Stryker is funding a TV ad campaign that began Sept. 28. The Talmey-Drake poll, which has a 4.4 percent plus-or-minus margin of error, surveyed 500 registered voters Oct. 3-9.

Unz said a response to the No ad campaign will begin "very soon, in as little as a few days."

"We're actually trying to raise money, and we'll certainly be running our own commercials," he said. "We have some money in hand, and we're trying to raise some more."

But Gully Stanford, co-chairman of English Plus, the group running No on 31, said the drop in the polls is about more than money. He points to recent endorsements of the No campaign, such as Gov. Bill Owens' public stance against 31.

"The fact that we have been able to purchase advertising means that we have been able to broadcast our message," Stanford said. "People are responding to our message, not the money."

The new poll results are "good news, but we've got a lot of work to do," said English Plus strategist John Britz.

He said No on 31 officials fully expected Unz to respond with an ad campaign.

"We're staying on message," Britz said. "We'll see what happens."

 mitchelln@RockyMountain News.com(303)892-5245

Home Page     Events and Information   Awards&Scholarships   AABE NEWS 2004      News( 2003)       News(2002)       Publications      Board_Information     Board Contact     Goals      Feedback     Research Links     Links