Unz: Moving on to Arizona

TUCSON — Ron Unz, the computer software developer, who lead the attack on bilingual education in California, is working with a Tucson-based group that hopes to dismantle bilingual education in Arizona, as well.

Shortly after Proposition 227 passed in California last June, members of English for the Children — Arizona contacted Unz seeking his advice and support. Proposition 227 slashed instructional support for students speaking languages other than English, replacing bilingual programs with a year of “English-only” classes.

English for the Children — Arizona is a recently formed grassroots organization of about 20 parents and educators. Members have begun campaigning door-to-door in Tucson to gather support in their efforts to place an anti-bilingual education proposition on a statewide ballot. They are also trying to recruit more members in other parts of Arizona.

This summer, Unz has met a number of times with members of English for the Children — Arizona to help with political strategy. He also donated a fax and Xerox machine to help them set up an office and met with Phoenix lawyers to determine the compatibility of the California proposition with Arizona law, according to reports in The Tucson Citizen.

Unz believes it will be easy to get a proposition similar to California’s Proposition 227 on the ballot in Arizona. The California proposition will need few changes to comply with Arizona law and fewer petitions signatures will be needed to force a referendum. He expects that a proposition to end bilingual education in Arizona could be on the ballot as soon as November 1999.

The Tucson Association for Bilingual Education (TABE), meanwhile, has begun its own door-to-door campaign in support of bilingual education and to counteract myths and stereotypes about the education of children who are not dominant in English. TABE is putting special emphasis on publicizing the support among Latino parents for bilingual programs.