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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Forthcoming Blogs: Romney on Illegal Immigration, Homeland Security, Terrorism, and Foreign Policy

I know of several people who are wondering about Mitt Romney's stance or experience with the "hot-button" issues of illegal immigraton, homeland security, terrorism, and foreign policy. All of these issues are rather interrelated. I have researched several articles and web archives and am compiling them to help inform others.

As an intro, below is Gov. Romney's experience with Massachusetts "English Immersion " Program which 68% of voters supported to end "Biligual Education" in the state schools:

bostonherald.com, 7-16-03 “Watered Down English Immersion Law Incurs Governor's Wrath”

BOSTON, MA - After the Massachusetts legislature carved out exemptions to a voter-approved English-immersion law for immigrants, Governor Mitt Romney called their action an act of "unfathomable arrogance" and vowed to oust legislators who backed the move.

An overwhelming 68% percent of Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative last year requiring that immigrant students be placed in all-English classes instead of bilingual classes. But on July 14 the lawmakers voted to override the governor's veto of several newly created exemptions, including one for "two-way" programs, a form of bilingual education in which students of different cultures learn each other's languages simultaneously.

Branding the loopholes as a capitulation to "special interests," including teachers unions, Romney said he wants immigrant students to learn English first. About 51,000 students in the state have limited English skills

The voter-approved law allows for "two-way" programs but requires that students be able to speak English first. The legislature rolled back that part of the law and another part that limited the programs to older students. Opponents of "two-way" programs charge that they help native English speakers who want to learn Spanish, but are a detriment to students who need to learn English.

"Individuals in the legislature or elsewhere who believe they are smarter than the voters, I'm going to campaign to find people to take their place," Romney said
Not surprisingly, this watered down version has had it’s shortcomings (Boston Globe, May 21,2006). However, one must admit, that achieving a rather large percentage of fluency at the first assessment is better than trapping kids in bilingual education programs indefinitely. One reason for the failure is a lack of support for the measure by the educators themselves:

“A state survey in December and January, which the Globe obtained, found that more than half of the 52 school systems educating the vast majority of non-native English speakers did not set up separate classes to teach English as a second language.”

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