Massachusetts dumps dual-language classes
By Associated Press
November 6, 2002
Voters in Massachusetts said adios to the state's bilingual education law
Tuesday, replacing it with a controversial initiative similar to Amendment 31 on
Question 2 gives non-native English speakers one year to learn English before
they are moved into regular classes. Current law allows for up to three years.
"I would hope that a big victory in a state like Massachusetts would help
galvanize this as a national issue," said California businessman Ron Unz, who
funded the initiatives in Massachusetts and Colorado and was in Massachusetts to
ballot returns. He also funded similar measures that passed in California in
1998 and in Arizona in 2000.
The initiative requires students to be taught all classes in English.
A teacher could use a student's native language only to help explain a complex
theory. Students would then be tested in English.
As does Amendment 31, Massachusetts' initiative allows parents to sue teachers,
administrators and school committee members personally for violating the law and
teaching in a native language.
No one has been sued so far, Unz said.
Lawmakers concerned about the ballot initiative this summer revamped bilingual
education by giving schools more choices in programs but with strict state
The goal was two years and out, with a third year if necessary.