Vetos upset some voters
Ventura County Star
October 14, 2005
By Frank Moraga firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor says no to bilingual ed, license bills
Maybe it's the time of year, with Halloween just a few weeks away. Spooky
things are happening in Sacramento and it could result in the
"termination" of support for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger by a growing
number of Latino voters and those who support issues of importance to
the Latino community.
On Oct. 7, the governor's office announced he would not sign into law
SB385, which would have allowed students the chance to gain English
proficiency within three years.
Supporters of the bill say students need those three years to master
English. They believe immigrant students do much better in the long
term if they are allowed to ease into English-only studies and to
initially take tests in their mother language, say, in Spanish.
The governor, however, said students should be thrown into the English
language as quickly as possible so they can take full advantage of the
"As an immigrant whose second language is English, I know the
importance of mastering English as quickly and as comprehensively as
possible, in order to be successful in the United States," Schwarzenegger
stated in a press release. "This bill runs counter to that goal by
eliminating testing in English for limited-English-proficient students
until they have been in school in the United States for three
consecutive years. By requiring testing of students in English only
after three years, this bill would further weaken incentives for LEP
student and their schools to work towards English proficiency. My
administration shall continue to work on behalf of English learners so
that school districts, principals, teachers, parents, and all students
can concentrate on the goal of improving student achievement," he
But while becoming English-proficient as quickly as possible is an
admirable goal, some educators say it is just not feasible.
"The annual fluency rate is less than 7 percent and it is taking an
average of seven years for only half of the students to become
fluent," said Denis O'Leary, a bilingual education teacher and a board
member of the Oxnard School District.
To force the state to implement a long-term bilingual education
program, the Oxnard School District, nine other districts and the
League of United Latin American Citizens have filed a lawsuit in state
court. The lawsuit alleges that California has failed to comply with a
mandate of the federal "No Child Left Behind" law that English
learners be tested in a valid and reliable manner.
The governor may have also lost support by some Latinos who want to
see undocumented immigrants get access to driver's licenses in
Oct. 7, the governor also vetoed a driver's license bill, SB60, saying
California should wait until the federal government finishes work on
new regulations for such licenses nationwide.
"Enacting this bill will result in billions of dollars being spent on
a process that ultimately could conflict with federal regulations,"
Schwarzenegger said in his veto message.
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who
has tried five times to get such a bill passed. Cedillo said the bill is
needed to improve homeland security by requiring documentation of
Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year, saying the licenses
should have a different look to identify immigrants.
To satisfy those concerns, the licenses for immigrants were designed
to look different than standard driver's licenses. The Department of
Motor Vehicles was also given eight months after the federal
regulations were enacted to begin issuing the licenses.
However, Schwarzenegger said that still wasn't enough.
"It is regrettable that the governor did not sign Senate Bill 60 into
law, even though the legislation addresses all of his concerns," Cedillo
said. "It is also disappointing and offensive that the governor vetoed
this legislation during Latino Heritage Month, a time when we
celebrate the diverse and inclusive nature of our state."
To be sure, not all Latinos in California support the move toward slow
and steady bilingual education, or driver's licenses for undocumented
immigrants. But a significant number do and that could spell further
trouble for Schwarzenegger who has already lost support from a variety
of groups since he has been in office.
Many of those Latinos who thought it would be cool to have that
"Terminator" dude as governor may now be having serious second
-- Frank Moraga is The Star's director of diversity and general
manager of Mi Estrella, The Star's bilingual weekly newspaper. He can be
reached at email@example.com.