[lg policy] North Carolina: "Government-Sanctioned Bigotry" Bars Parents from Speaking Spanish
hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 25 16:24:34 UTC 2010
"Government-Sanctioned Bigotry" Bars Parents from Speaking Spanish
by Alex DiBranco
Published February 24, 2010 @ 04:06PM PT
Earlier this month, I wrote about the termination of a school
secretary, Ana Mateo, in North Carolina for translating for
Spanish-speaking parents -- including the mother of a seven-year-old
boy who had allegedly been sexually assaulted while at school. Mateo
crossed a new principal's English-only policy; she is now in court,
suing the school for discrimination on Title VII grounds.
What happened to that young student who was allegedly sodomized is
unclear from the lawsuit and other coverage; due to the dearth of
details, this horrific situation has gotten lost in most reports. We
do know from the text of Mateo's lawsuit that the mother in question
finally had to leave, crying and without answers, because Mateo was
not permitted to translate and she did not understand English. (Her
angst over her child's welfare no doubt made it even more difficult
for her to communicate in a language she struggles with.) VivirLatino
asks if "Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools takes care of the physical
safety of the children in it’s [sic] schools and if it takes
accusations of sexual assaults against Latino children seriously?"
Turns out, it wasn't just the staff of Devonshire Elementary who were
told that English was the only language permitted on school grounds.
In a recent report by a local television station, covered by Latina
Lista, parents allege that they were told they couldn't even speak in
Spanish to one another -- this despite the fact that more than half of
the school's population is Hispanic, many students come from immigrant
homes where English is not the primary language, and their parents
sometimes have difficultly with the language. As it happens, that's
why the bilingual school secretary, Ana Mateo, was hired in the first
place: to translate for parents who need the ability to communicate
about their children.
Danny Rangel reports on Immigrant Rights that the district's
superintendent, Peter Gorman, said in a recent statement: "We want our
folks to translate. Bilingual staff is a beautiful thing for us. It
helps moms and dads out, and it helps kids." His lofty rhetoric hardly
seem to square will the allegations of both Mateo and local parents.
Even if these are the actions of one rogue principal, the district
should have moved to remedy the situation -- and given that the
television report linked to above was filmed recently, it seemed clear
that no real action has been taken.
In the past, the National Education Association has referred to
English-only policies in schools as "government-sanctioned bigotry,"
condemning the institution of "language police." "Whether or not its
proponents are bigots themselves, English Only gives comfort to
anti-immigrant forces," the Association continues. The NEA considers
it an undue burden on teachers and staff, opposed to the interests of
students, and antithetical to school's values of tolerance and
Over 2,000 Change.org members have already told the school district
that such a harmful, intolerant policy is unacceptable. Join them by
signing the petition to send a letter insisting that the school
district take real steps to address parents concerns, protect student
welfare, and end English-only policies immediately.
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