Illinois school admin. punishes children speaking Spanish

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Dec 20 14:56:10 UTC 2006

San Antonio Express-News

Enchiladas, manana, sol.

In San Antonio, we hear these words almost every day. You do not have to
be fluent in Spanish to recognize them. And you do not have to be a U.N.
ambassador to accept them.

Sadly, however, diversity is not treasured  or even tolerated  everywhere.
To some people, Spanish is not merely a language. It is an assault against
American culture, even though American culture is a wonderful mix of
nationalities and ethnicities.

In Mount Prospect, Ill., recently, a middle school administrator set out
to punish kids caught speaking Spanish. He got 13 students to sign a
contract equating Spanish with "bullying." The penalty for speaking the
language? Suspension.

To equate a language with intimidation is so ludicrous as to bear little
refutation. But when the absurdity affects innocent kids, it is time to
step in.

Thankfully, the Mount. Prospect school superintendent did just that,
according to the Chicago Tribune. He apologized for the "misguided" and
"unacceptable" action by the River Trails Middle School administrator, who
has remained unnamed. Bad behavior, he said, had nothing to do with

Ed Tivador, the administrator, said the "contract" was well-intentioned,
aimed to improve communication between Hispanics and teachers who did not
speak Spanish. If so, it had the opposite effect, creating a barrier to
understanding. The superintendent said school administrators will undergo
sensitivity training.

"In our growing diverse world, sometimes there's a lack of sensitivity,"
he said of the contract. "And this is an example of that."


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