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Bilingual education targeted in Massachusetts

by FRANÇOIS LaFORGE | August 17, 2001 | Page 2

BOSTON--Two years ago, school officials here eliminated busing. Now bilingual education is under attack. Ron Unz, the Silicon Valley millionaire who bankrolled anti-bilingual education referendums that passed in California and Arizona, has set his sights on Massachusetts.

Unz has won support from minority figures like Wilfredo Laboy, the school superintendent in Lawrence, Mass., and Lincoln Tamayo, the Cuban-born principal of Chelsea High School who resigned from his position to lead Unz's push on the ballot measure.

Unz is a cynical right-winger who uses the horrible state of U.S. schools as a pedestal for his anti-bilingual propaganda. But unfortunately, the referendums that he's backed have passed by sizeable majorities.

That's because the people who could have put up a real fight--most importantly, Democratic Party officials--avoided taking a hard stand for fear of alienating conservative voters.

We need to expose Unz as a racist phrasemonger, even when he uses minority superintendents and principals to lead his cause.

Beating this ballot measure will mean making a clear defense of bilingual education--and appealing to both immigrant and native workers to oppose Unz's attack as scapegoating that draws attention away from the real problem, the rotten state of our schools.

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