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Back to November Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 214 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS NOVEMBER 2003

Watered Down English Immersion
Law Incurs Governor's Wrath 
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BOSTON, MA - After the Massachusetts legislature carved out exemptions to a voter-approved English-immersion law for immigrants, Governor Mitt Romney called their action an act of "unfathomable arrogance" and vowed to oust legislators who backed the move.

An overwhelming 68% percent of Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative last year requiring that immigrant students be placed in all-English classes instead of bilingual classes. But on July 14 the lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto of several newly created exemptions, including one for "two-way" programs, a form of bilingual education in which students of different cultures learn each other's languages simultaneously.

Branding the loopholes as a capitulation to "special interests," including teachers unions, Romney said he wants immigrant students to learn English first. About 51,000 students in the state have limited English skills (boston.com, 7-16-03).

The voter-approved law allows for "two-way" programs but requires that students be able to speak English first. The legislature rolled back that part of the law and another part that limited the programs to older students. Opponents of "two-way" programs charge that they help native English speakers who want to learn Spanish, but are a detriment to students who need to learn English.

"Individuals in the legislature or elsewhere who believe they are smarter than the voters, I'm going to campaign to find people to take their place," Romney said (bostonherald.com, 7-16-03).


 
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