Bilingual: Immersion in English opposed
An order to mail every city resident City Council votes on important issues each
September was turned down by
a voice vote.
By DAVID REID
HOLYOKE - The City Council voted 12-3 this week to oppose statewide Ballot
Question 2, which if passed would replace bilingual education with a "sheltered
English immersion" program.
Sponsored by Ward 1 City Councilor Alejandro Sanchez Jr. and Ward 2 Councilor
Diosdado Lopez, the council measure encourages voters to reject the ballot
As proposed, the Sanchez-Lopez order stated that teaching all classes in English
instead of in a student's native language "would undoubtedly impair his or her
Citing "significant improvements" in test scores by bilingual-class students,
the order states that "language differences
can impair a child's learning ability and impede his or her educational
During debate late Tuesday, Lopez predicted that mandatory English immersion
could result in more Spanish-speaking students leaving school and being unable
to get good jobs.
"If we pass (Question 2), we will see even more dropouts," said Lopez.
But At-large Councilor Kevin A. Jourdain, who voted against the Sanchez-Lopez
order, said empirical evidence shows
that English immersion works.
Over the past decade, Jourdain said, bilingual education has not succeeded as
many had hoped and said it is time to try another way help students become
fluent in English.
"This is something that is at the core of America. It is something we all share
- the English language," Jourdain said.
"The status quo is not acceptable because the results are not acceptable," he
Also voting "no" on the measure were At-large Councilor John E. Whelihan and
Ward 5 Councilor John P. Brunelle.
At-large Councilor Patrick J. Higgins and Ward 3 Councilor Helen F. Norris were
Richard M. Welch, who held the post for more than six years, died Oct. 2.
Several would-be replacements are vying for the post, which expires in January
2004. The City Council is expected to vote on Welch's replacement by December.
David Reid can be reached at