Wichita: Catholic School Officials have received mixed reactions to English-only policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Oct 26 14:13:52 UTC 2007

Religion News in Brief

By The Associated Press – 22 hours ago

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Officials at St. Anne Catholic School here have gotten
mixed reactions to their requirement that students speak only in English
while at school. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita says the school
enacted the policy to deal with Spanish-speaking students who were using
their native language to bully other children or insult teachers and
administrators without their knowledge. But some parents have complained
about the policy, saying St. Anne is discriminating against Spanish

"What is the message we're sending, since we have a lot of Spanish-speaking
parents participating in school and church, then you're telling their kids
not to speak Spanish?" said Clara Silva, a former liaison to the school's
Hispanic parents whose sixth-grade son now attends another Catholic school
because of the policy. Silva said parents have told her children were not
allowed to speak Spanish at lunch and that four students were prevented from
sitting together.

Administrators at the school enacted the policy themselves. While the
diocese school policy handbook forbids bullying and recommends a range of
disciplinary actions, restricting language is not one of them. Of St. Anne's
243 students, 75 are Hispanic, 27 are Asian and two are black, school
officials said.
Bob Voboril, the diocese's school superintendent, recently sent out a letter
seeking to clarify the language policy and express support for it. "English
is the language used in school, not because it is better than Spanish or
Vietnamese, but because it is the language that the children must (use to)
read textbooks, pass state examinations, succeed in college and be
employed," read the letter, which was translated into Spanish.


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