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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Anti-ESL Instruction Measure Qualifies for November Ballot

June 17, 2008

Aeryca Steinbauer, CAUSA Coordinator, (503) 984-6816
Kayse Jama, Center for Intercultural Organizing, (503) 287-4117
Liz Rogers, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), (503) 730-2585
Erik Sorensen, CAUSA Communications, (503)488-0263

Anti-ESL Instruction Measure Qualifies for November Ballot

Broad coalition forms to educate voters on the harmful consequences measure will have on Oregon’s children and economy

Salem, OR—Today the Oregon Secretary of State’s office announced that Initiative Petition #19 has qualified for the upcoming ballot. The unfunded mandate termed “English Language Instruction” would prohibit teaching a public school student in a language other than English for more than two years. This November, Oregonians will have the choice to reject or pass a law which will take control away from local school boards, families and educators and place it in the hands of convicted racketeer Bill Sizemore.

School children targeted by Bill Sizemore’s measure speak over a hundred languages in our public schools and come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of these children suffer from economic hardship and some have spent years in refugee camps with no formal schooling before coming to Oregon,” said Kayse Jama of the Center for Intercultural Organizing. “This is a new low even for Sizemore, destroying their educational hopes in a land where they should be given equal opportunity".

Similar measures that have been passed in other states have been shown to hinder the ability of children to learn English. In California, a recent study revealed that after six years since an anti-bilingual education measure’s passage just one-quarter of Hispanic pupils could expect to be reclassified as fluent in English.

This staggering revelation shows that students have been prevented from making the most of their education thereby having a negative impact on their economic future and the future of the communities they live in. The fact remains, children learn English more quickly, along with math and science and other academic subjects, when at least some of their instruction is in their native language. Last year, there were 62,084 students enrolled in English Language Development programs in Oregon school districts.

A broad coalition of immigrant, refugee, educators and ally organizations are set to fight the ill-conceived measure by educating Oregonians about the additional costs the measure will create, the fact that it will take federal money away from Oregon’s General Fund Budget, the harm it will do to children and the control it will take away from local school boards, families and educators, those whom know best about educate our children.

"We are in the process of educating families in communities around Oregon about the harmful consequences of this measure”, said Aeryca Steinbauer, coordinator of CAUSA. “Oregonians everywhere should be concerned about its damaging effects on children and disruption of local control".



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