Original URL: http://www.aztrib.com/index.php?sty=16622
LULAC blasts Arizona schools at presidential candidate
East Valley Tribune
By Beth Lucas
The League of United Latin American Citizens blasted
Arizona in front of Democratic presidential candidates Monday, saying the state
tramples Hispanic studentsí rights to speak Spanish at school. LULACís education
chairman, Silverio Garcia Jr., who is planning a federal lawsuit either against
the state or some school districts, stood before a national audience at the
LULAC-sponsored presidential candidate forum in Phoenix.
"We are blatantly violating civil rights education law," Garcia told a cheering
crowd. "Forty years ago we struggled for the civil rights act, and here we are
violating it because of the false perception of English-only."
LULAC has filed dozens of federal complaints against districts, including
Scottsdale and Paradise Valley unified, and the East Valley Institute of
Technology in Mesa.
Recent cases include:
ē The Scottsdale school board on Jan. 15 voted to fire former Ingleside Middle
School English Immersion teacher Kim Youngblood, 52, after eight students
complained she slapped and yelled at them, partly for speaking in Spanish during
ē EVIT decided to change its rule to allow speaking Spanish after a cosmetology
Spokesman Tom Herrmann said the Scottsdale Unified School District has been
training teachers to allow native languages spoken for clarification.
"We not only donít punish kids for speaking their native language, but itís
allowed," he said. "The idea is to help them learn English."
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said Garcia only speaks for a
small minority upset since he began enforcing a provision in Prop. 203 that
requires students speak English proficiently before parents can opt out of
English immersion in favor of bilingual education.
"The vast majority of Latino people want their children to learn English," Horne
said. He said teachers are instructed to allow a native language spoken for
translation or clarification. In 2002 he pushed the Paradise Valley Unified
School District, where he was a longtime board member, to change its rule that
prohibited Spanish speaking in class.
"It has to be applied with common sense," Horne said. "As long as the teaching
itself is fundamentally in English."
Contact Beth Lucas by email, or phone (480) 898-7731