Oregon Live: Oregon voters will parse English immersion debate

Oregon Live

Oregon voters will parse English immersion debate

Measure 58, which claims the best way to learn English is to immerse children in it without regard to their native language, squarely fits with a language controversy as old as America itself.

Some supporters say immersion is the way since the 18th century: sink or swim, assimilate. Others say that wasn’t always true. Historically, some immigrant children were taught in a language other than English when they arrived, even as far back as the 19th century, including in Oregon.

The rise and fall of U.S. immigration rates, with the accompanying alternating attitudes towards immigrants, influences the debate. Language, especially English immersion, most recently has been cast as a surrogate for an anti-immigrant stance.

“The polemics about language are inextricably linked to newcomers who give the appearance of not wanting to become part of the melting pot,” said Carlos Ovando, professor at Arizona State University. “Language allows people to take a xenophobic position and doesn’t make them look so bad.”

Others see bilingual education as “an experiment that was not successful,” said Rosalie Porter, author of books on immigrant children’s education. “It is the responsibility of the schools to give children English. It’s a pro-immigrant idea; it’s a civil rights issue. Our immigrant children deserve a quality education.”

In Oregon, where 15 percent of English learners are taught part of the day in their native tongue, both supporters and opponents cast the measure as an education rather than immigration proposal.

Colorado Independent: Hickenlooper says ‘no’ to Amendment 46

Colorado Independent

Hickenlooper says ‘no’ to Amendment 46

Today at 2 p.m., Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper will speak out against the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, a ballot measure that will destroy public affirmative action programs statewide.


Hickenlooper will speak on the front steps of the City and County Building in Denver.

Late last month, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter also slammed the measure during a press conference, calling it a “California import.” The initiative has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from Ward Connerly, a California businessman who is attempting to ban affirmative action state by state.

While similar projects in other states failed this year, both Colorado and Nebraska electors will vote on whether they’d like to cut preferential treatment programs for women and minorities

Politicker AZ: Republican officials come out strong against Prop. 202

Politicker AZ

Republican officials come out strong against Prop. 202

A group of prominent Republican legislators and public officials gathered outside the state capitol Wednesday to express their opposition to Proposition 202, the “Stop Hiring Illegals” ballot measure that would increase civil penalties for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, but, according to opponents, would negate the current employer sanctions law passed by Arizonans only last year.

USA Today: Voters face affirmative action ban measures

USA Today

Voters face affirmative action ban measures

University of Colorado freshman Darian Salehy loves college life so far — except for one thing.

“It’s all white people,” Salehy mused on the Boulder campus lawn recently, looking at fellow students headed to class.

Salehy, of Iranian descent, fears the state’s flagship university, currently about 9% non-white, might become less diverse if Colorado passes a ballot measure banning government consideration of race or gender in university admissions, contracts and state spending.

The measure is similar to ones approved by voters in California, Michigan and Washington state, as well as one on the Nebraska ballot this year. It’s part of a state-by-state push by former California regent Ward Connerly, who tried but failed to get the question on ballots in Arizona and Oklahoma this year.

Affirmative action isn’t dominating national political headlines — or even getting a lot of talk in Colorado, where it’s just one of 14 ballot measures facing voters and has been overshadowed by the presidential race and financial crisis.

COlorado Independent: Pro-affirmative action group to sue Secretary of State

COlorado Independent

Pro-affirmative action group to sue Secretary of State

A group that launched a failed attempt to protect affirmative action programs in Colorado will sue Secretary of State Mike Coffman today for throwing away up to 5,300 valid signatures that would have bolstered the initiative’s chances to make it onto the ballot.

The measure, called Initiative 82, sought to preserve affirmative action programs in the face of Amendment 46, a controversial ballot proposal which, if passed, will destroy them.

Colorado University law professor Melissa Hart, who is also spearheading the Vote No on Amendment 46 campaign, claims that the Secretary of State’s Office tossed out signatures that belonged to registered active voters, including the signature of Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s son, according to 9News.

New Nebraska Network: Affirmative Action: Real Leaders Reveal Heineman’s Cowardice & Calculation

New Nebraska Network

Affirmative Action: Real Leaders Reveal Heineman’s Cowardice & Calculation

A debate last week between the candidates for the Nebraska Legislature in LD 37 offered some hope in the ongoing affirmative action debate as both Republican candidates spoke up in defense of opportunity and diversity.  The Kearney Hub reports:

Responding to a question from a Mexican-American student attending the forum, both [Jim] George and [Galen] Hadley said they oppose the initiative to end affirmative action in Nebraska. If approved on Nov. 4, the initiative would end race- and gender-based preference and strip many ethnic students of the scholarships they need to attend college in Nebraska. “Affirmative action still has a place,” George said. “You want to be fair and give everyone an opportunity.”

Hadley said he worked hard as a college administrator to ensure the applicant pools he assembled for vacancies were a cross sampling of the population. Referring to Lexington, which has more than a 50-percent minority population, Hadley said ending Affirmative Action would deny many youths in that community of 10,000 the opportunity for higher education.

“It means that people have a chance. We need to help so legal immigrants have a shot at higher education,” Hadley said.

There’s nothing simple about the issue of affirmative action.  As its future in the state is put to voters, the very least they should expect is their leaders being honest and forthcoming about where they stand.  Congressional representatives probably have a lesser responsibility because this isn’t a federal issue. But, an amendment to the state constitution is definitely in the Governor’s domain – especially when it promises to severely tie the hands of state and local governments, public programs and public institutions.

I don’t buy into the demagoguery that has too often surrounded affirmative action from both sides of the debate.  To me, much more important than the position taken on this issue is how one actually comes to that final determination.  What factors are considered?  How does one communicate his or her decision to voters? It’s in these questions that a leader’s true value can be measured.  Here, Heineman proves himself practically worthless by his avoidance of the issue.  His refusal to answer so simple a question – even if it required a more complicated answer – is outrageous, insulting and downright irresponsible.

Colorado Independent: Ritter: Anti-affirmative action initiative will ‘destroy years of progress’

Colorado Independent (9/29/08)

Ritter: Anti-affirmative action initiative will ‘destroy years of progress’

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter lambasted Amendment 46 at a press conference this afternoon, saying that the anti-affirmative action ballot measure will hurt our economy.

“We are in a time in this country and in this state where we have to keep our economy moving forward,” said Ritter, who spoke surrounded by supporters on the west steps of the state Capitol. “Amendment 46 takes us in the wrong direction.”