Bilingual backers get $3 million gift Donor's funds target Amendment
By Eric Hübler
Denver Post Education Writer
Sunday, September 29, 2002 -
Anti-bilingual education activists are scrambling to bolster their campaign
after a Fort Collins philanthropist donated $3 million to help their opposition
Pat Stryker's gift to opponents of Amendment 31 on the Nov. 5 ballot likely was
the largest contribution from an individual to an issue campaign in Colorado
history, independent pollster Floyd Ciruli said.
"Amendment 31 is in deep trouble," Ciruli said.
Ron Unz, a California businessman who is bankrolling the anti-bilingual
proposal, said "there's no way in the universe" he can match Stryker's spending
Unz largely financed successful anti-bilingual campaigns in California in 1998
and Arizona in 2000. He reportedly spent $752,000 on his California campaign.
Until the gift was announced Friday, English Plus, the group fighting Amendment
31, had little more than $100,000 to work with. Spokesman John Britz said the
group will use Stryker's gift to buy advertising.
"There's no way in the world we'll remotely match that advertising campaign,"
"It is absolutely astonishing," Unz said. "It represents almost three times as
much as I've spent on almost all of my statewide campaigns combined."
Stryker is the granddaughter of Homer Stryker, who founded Stryker Corp., a
Michigan medical-equipment manufacturer.
She's also the mother of a student at Harris Bilingual Immersion School in Fort
"She has firsthand experience with the benefits that bilingual education
provides because she has a child there," said Tom Hacker, a spokesman for Pat
Stryker declined to be interviewed or to provide more information about her
child, Hacker said.
Amendment 31 co-author Rita Montero called Stryker's gift "just one more attempt
to give us an inferior education."
Dual-language schools such as Harris and Academia Ana Marie Sandoval in Denver
exploit Hispanic children, Montero said.
"I think these folks are like vampires who suck the blood out of our
neighborhoods, out of our schools, and out of our children. Not only do they
take our schools away but now they use our kids to teach their kids Spanish and
it's just a racist attempt to prevent our kids from learning English," Montero
Supporters of dual-language education say Spanish-speakers learn English,
English-speakers learn Spanish, and both cultures learn to respect each other.
Ciruli said voters favor Amendment 31 but it was starting to lose some support
even before Stryker's gift was announced. Stryker's gift could bury it, he said.
"Also it fits right into this theme of Republicans reaching out to Hispanics,"
Unz said Stryker's magnanimity is pointless since Harris and other public
dual-language schools could continue operating if the parents of the
Spanish-speaking kids took advantage of waiver procedures built into Amendment
Applying for a waiver would involve writing a 250-word essay annually on why
bilingual education is good for a particular child. Schools would be under no
obligation to grant the waivers, however.
"You could say this woman is willing to sacrifice the lives and education of
60,000 or 70,000 immigrant students so her school doesn't have to fill out any
extra forms," Unz said.
"The only fanatical parents I ever encounter in these initiatives are the Anglo
parents of dual-immersion students, and this is a perfect case of that," Unz