Amend. 31 rivals joust over ads
By Eric Hubler
Denver Post Education Writer
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Forget about English for a moment. Each side in the battle over Amendment 31,
an effort to end bilingual education in Colorado, is accusing the other of
sloppy math and history.
In a new pro-31 radio ad, former Gov. Dick Lamm says, "I established bilingual
education in Colorado 20 years ago, but now I'm voting for Amendment 31 to undo
On Monday, Lamm told The Denver Post he was referring to the Bilingual and
Bicultural Education Act, which he signed into law in 1975.
That would be 27 years ago, Gully Stanford, a state school board member and
co-chairman of English Plus, the group fighting the amendment, pointed out.
Stanford agreed with Lamm that the 1975 law was bad: It established the sort of
long-term, Spanish-language schooling for immigrant kids that amendment backers
Ron Unz of California and Rita Montero of Denver deplore.
But it was repealed in 1981 - 21 years ago - and replaced with the English
Language Proficiency Act. The newer law established Colorado's current system of
letting local school boards decide how to handle English acquisition.
Lamm signed that one, too.
"I'm referring to the one when we initiated bilingual education" in the ad, Lamm
told The Post.
"For him to imply that the old bilingual act is still in force is misleading,"
Meanwhile, Unz said a new English Plus TV ad claiming that a similar initiative
in Arizona in 2000 - called Proposition 203 - cost taxpayers $66 million is a
The opposition ad cites an article that said the Arizona legislature released
about $66 million for English learners after Proposition 203 was approved.
But the ad didn't mention that a federal lawsuit seeking more funding for
English learners also was in play, Unz complained.
Unz said the lawsuit, which lasted most of the 1990s, had "absolutely nothing to
do with the change from bilingual education to English immersion or our
"He's right about one thing," English Plus spokesman John Britz said.
"Proposition 203 and the federal lawsuit are kind of intermingled. But the
federal lawsuit is not the reason why those funds are being utilized. They're
being utilized for the implementation of 203."
The cost of Proposition 203 is of interest to Colorado school districts because
Amendment 31 requires new tests and possibly teacher training but contains no
The Colorado Legislative Council has said Amendment 31 would cost the state
nothing, but there "may be" costs to school districts.
The amendment was leading in polls as recently as a few weeks ago but has
plummeted since English Plus began airing ads. On Sunday, according to Ciruli
Associates, 34 percent of likely voters supported the initiative and 54 percent
opposed it, up from 43 percent just five days earlier.