Original URL: http://www.tauntongazette.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=5734419&BRD=1711&PAG=461&dept_id=24232&rfi=6

Resolution on bilingual education passed

The Taunton Gazette  October 17, 2002

by Peter Gillen, Staff Writer

TAUNTON -- Taunton senior Epson Soares, 17, has passed both the English and math MCAS exams despite
only being in the country for three years.

"The bilingual program really helped. If it weren't for the program I don't think I would have done as well as I did,"
said the native Angolan.

School Committee members listened to Soares, community leaders and the city legislative delegation on the
debate concerning the Nov. 5 ballot question that proposes to require districts to use a one-year English immersion

Five School Committee members and Superintendent Donald Cleary went on record as opposing the so-called Unz
petition that proposes English immersion rather than "transitional" bilingual programs.

School Committee member Barry Cooperstein voted not to oppose the Unz petition and Committee members Terry
Quinn and Josephine Almeida stated that the question should not have been presented to the school committee in
that forum.

"It's not the place for it. If you wanted to (discuss Question 2) you should have held a public hearing," Quinn said.

Cooperstein noted his position in the minority and said he had no time to gather supporters, so he simply read a
letter in support of the Unz proposal from the petition's initiator, Lincoln J. Tamayo.

Cleary defended his putting the issue on the agenda, citing the educational impact of the initiative

About 25 supporters of transitional bilingual education -- and oppose English immersion -- attended the meeting.
Several bilingual program graduates and students spoke in support of the program.

Unz initiative detractors stated the immersion program isn't working well in Unz's home state of California, that the
initiative takes away school district flexibility and that the state legislature has already made changes to bilingual
law to raise the bar. Finally, Unz detractor argued that the law would make it possible for parents to sue teachers
and School Committees who do not comply with the law.

Cooperstein noted that few people opposed the Education Reform Bill in 1993, which he said considerably reduced
local authority.

During the debate, several people invoked the successes of failures of their immigrant parents in schools without
bilingual programs.

But the most strident language came from Taunton legislators, who suggested that those who favor English
immersion are given in to their less noble feelings and emotions.

State Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton, said that at the "heart and soul" of the Unz ballot initiative in prejudice.

"Prejudice is alive and well in this petition that is on the ballot," Pacheco said.

State Rep. James H. Fagan, D-Taunton, played the same theme.

"The Unz petition is isolationism, that's what it is," Fagan said. "It plays on the fears we all have of people who are

Pacheco said the new bilingual plan gives districts choices. They can, he said, use English immersion, or
transitional bilingual classes that aim for a two year transition period.

School Committee member Alfred Baptista took exception to a portion of the Tamayo letter read by Cooperstein.

"Finally, it is the last refuge of scoundrels to say that Ballot Question 2 is 'anti-immigrant' or racist. Our worst public
figures use this divisive tactic when they have no solid arguments or evidence to rely upon," Tamayo said.

"The first refuge of a scoundrel is to say that anyone who doesn't agree with you is a scoundrel," Baptista said.

Baptista then questioned Tamayo's credential on bilingual education, saying he was principal at one of the lowest
performing high schools in the state.

Unz drew applause when he wondered out loud how Unz would fare if he took "graduate courses in philosophy in a
another language."


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