English teaching law stands
Court rejects Calif. challenge to immersion
By Howard Fischer, The Arizona Daily, 8 October 2002
CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES
A federal appeals court has rejected a challenge to California's
voter-approved law requiring English immersion as the preferred method of
But an attorney in Arizona who has been at the forefront of challenging a
nearly identical law here said Monday's ruling will not affect his efforts.
Appellate Judge Wallace Tashima acknowledged Monday there is "an undeniable
racial dimension" to California's Proposition 227. He said more than 82
percent of the students with limited English proficiency in that state -
ones affected by the law - were Hispanic, yet they made up less than 41
percent of the overall student population.
He also said Hispanics were singled out in ballot materials, press releases
and published opinion pieces. Tashima said, though, that seeking to abolish
bilingual education was not racially motivated.
The ruling comes as attorney Tom Berning is preparing his second lawsuit
challenging Arizona's Proposition 203, approved two years ago by voters.
Berning said his new lawsuit is based on what he said are legal flaws in
Proposition 203. While the Arizona law permits parents to seek waivers to
keep their children in bilingual education programs, he said, there is no
procedure for appeal.
Berning met with potential plaintiffs in the case on Monday in Phoenix. The
case should be filed within two months.
The William E. Morris Institute for Justice, where Berning works, filed his
first lawsuit after the Tucson Unified School District refused to place a
girl in a bilingual education class as her parents requested. That suit was
dropped after district officials agreed to the request.
Both the Arizona and California laws make English immersion courses the
preferred method of teaching students for whom English is a second
Both laws permit waivers in certain circumstances, permitting students to
in bilingual classes where subject matter is taught in the native language
at the same time efforts are made to make the students proficient in