AZ AG: public schools not exempt from Prop. 203
dzo at BISHARAT.NET
Thu Mar 4 16:56:40 UTC 2004
It may be worthwhile to make reference to the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights: http://www.linguistic-declaration.org/index-gb.htm (see, esp. in this context, section II on education). It is not a binding inernational document as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but is gaining interest since its creation in 1996, and hopefully promoting discussion.
----- Original Message -----
From: Matthew Ward
To: ILAT at LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU
Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2004 4:54 PM
Subject: Re: AZ AG: public schools not exempt from Prop. 203
It's ironic: to a certain degree, our national government has recognized the issue. But, states are using the initiative process to allow urban newcomers to supress the languages of people who were there thousands of years before English even arrived.
I really believe that this needs to be publicized as much as possible, for a dual purpose: to try to embarrass the state of Arizona into acting in a just way, and to help discredit the entire English-only movement. One of the central planks of the English-only movement is the idea that English is the only language that can be considered "American." That ideology is sick and wrong.
I've forwarded a copy of the article below to NARF, and written a letter to the Arizona Republic. Here's a link to their Letters to the Editor dept: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/help/contact.html#editor. I plan to try to do as I can to publicize this issue. I do believe that if the American public knew about this issue, they would recognize the unfairness. Any ideas for doing this would be much appreciated.
Richard LaFortune wrote:
Interestingly, Andrew Dalby notes in his book,
Language In Danger (Columbia University Press,
"It took a sustained campaign of civil disobedience
before the British Government, in the 1960s,
grudgingly accepted its responsiblity to deal with
Welsh-speaking citizens in Welsh."
p 118 paragraph 2
--- Matthew Ward <mward at LUNA.CC.NM.US> wrote:
This is sickening and outrageous.. I'm amazed that
there haven't been
more responses to this article. What century are we
living in, anyway?
Sounds like it's time for major acts of civil
disobedience. I'm sorry
to sound extreme, but anybody who voted for an
English-only law in
Arizona, of all places, needs to move. And, the
idea that the law
applies to schools on reservations... This really,
really needs to be
publicized. If anyone can point me to an
organization fighting this, I
would be very grateful.
Liko Puha wrote:
AZ AG: public schools not exempt from Prop. 203
By Bill Donovan - Navajo Times
WINDOW ROCK - A couple of years ago, educators went
on the offensive
when Arizona voters went to the polls to decide
whether English would be
the only language that classes would be taught in.
At that time, a compromise was reached that public
thought would allow them an exemption so they could
in Native American languages in the early grades.
Boy, were they wrong.
Education officials for the state of Arizona are
now saying that based
on an opinion by the state's attorney general,
public schools on the
reservation have to comply with the English Only
law (Proposition 203).
Only Bureau of Indian Affairs schools are exempt.
"This is a major step backwards," said Deborah
superintendent of the Window Rock Unified School
Jackson-Dennison has got President Joe Shirley Jr.
involved in her
efforts to get the state to change its policy and
exempt public schools
on reservations that have a large Native American
Shirley and other tribal officials were in Phoenix
Tuesday meeting with
state education officials to get the matter
What's at risk, Jackson-Dennison said, were Navajo
programs like the one at Window Rock where students
in the primary
grades get instruction in their native language. As
they get into higher
grades, they receive more and more instruction in
By doing this, she said, it now appears that school
districts will be
putting in jeopardy some of their state funding.
She said that on many state funding requests, the
Arizona Department of
Education has placed a new item asking districts if
they are complying
with the English Only law.
"The form gives us only two options - yes or no,"
"There is not a third option labeled 'exempt.'"
By filling out the "no" blank, public schools on
reservations within the
state are taking a definite risk of getting their
application denied. If
they mark "yes," programs like Window Rock's Navajo
will be eliminated.
State school officials have made it very clear that
classes - all
classes - will be taught only in English.
Margaret Garcia-Dugan, associate superintendent for
Department of Education, said that while BIA
schools are exempt from
complying with Proposition 203, public schools are
In a written statement, she said that "if a public
school has a large
Native American student population, it must still
adhere to the
provisions set forth in Proposition 203 regardless
of whether or not
that school is on a reservation.
"Proposition 203 does allow teaching other
languages besides English as
an elective (such as Navajo Language and Cultural
said. "All other courses such as history, math,
English, and physical
education are to be in (English Only) unless the
student receives a
This, said Jackson-Dennison, doesn't make a lot of
sense since federal
statutes contain provisions that protect and
encourage the development
of native languages such as those offered within
the Window Rock school
"The No Child Left Behind Act also encourages the
teaching of native
languages," she said.
Now, the state is coming in and saying that the
school district could
lose some of its state funding by following the
federal laws and this
isn't right, she said.
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