No more Autobus Magico, as Nevada school district bans Spanish on the bus

Dennis Baron debaron at UIUC.EDU
Mon Feb 4 14:31:01 UTC 2008

There's a new post on the Web of Language --

No more Autobus Magico, as Nevada school district bans Spanish on the  

First a Kansas school bans any language but English on school  
grounds. Now a Nevada school district has banned Spanish on the bus.  
In October, 2007, Robert Aumaugher, superintendent of the Esmeralda  
County Schools, sent a note informing parents of students attending  
Fish Lake Valley High School that their children would not be allowed  
to speak Spanish on the school bus.

Aumaugher, whose office is in Goldfield, the Esmeralda county seat,  
decided to go English-only on the bus after learning that Nevada’s  
Spanish-speaking students have lower rates of high school graduation  
than English speakers. Plus the bus drivers, who don’t speak Spanish,  
are convinced that students are disrespecting them by speaking Spanish.

Goldfield, pop. 440, is a ghost town that once boasted Virgil Earp as  
its deputy sheriff. But since it no longer has a high school,  
students from Goldfield, Dyer, and other nearby towns are bussed to  
Fish Lake Valley in nearby Nye County.

But even though Nye’s county seat, Pahrump, declared English its  
official language, Nye school superintendent Rob Roberts insists that  
in his county, Spanish-speaking students can use their native  
language on the bus as much as they please, and the Nevada ACLU has  
stepped in to ask that Esmeralda’s no-Spanish rule be dropped....

The state of Nevada doesn’t have an official language. An official  
language law recently passed the Nevada senate, but the House has  
taken no action on the bill which states “that a command of English  
is a critical component of the success and productivity of the  
children in this State.” If passed, that law would also bar “any law  
which diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common  
language of [Nevada].” But since official English is still bottled up  
in the legislature, counties like Esmeralda, towns like Pahrump, and  
even school buses driven by English-speaking drivers are making their  
own English-only rules.

Read the rest at the Web of Language


Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

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