Schwarzenegger dumps on immigrants

It looks like Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is getting advice from the “Usual Suspects.” According to Yvette Cabrera, of the O.C. Register, when he was asked “what could be done to improve the academic performance of Latino students,” his response was, “You’ve got to turn off the Spanish television set. It’s that simple. You’ve got to learn English. I know that when I came to this country I did not or very rarely spoke German to anyone.”

Cabrera’s response to Schwarzenegger’s comments was, “Of course, immigrants should learn to speak English. Who can argue with that? The problem I had with the governor’s comment is that it didn’t indicate any understanding of the realities facing immigrant parents.”

Cabrera also sought feedback from a Santa Ana resident, “In the eyes of Santa Ana resident Victoria Zaragoza, the governor was simply dodging the real issues, such as the need to teach immigrant parents to navigate the school system.”

“One program that Zaragoza has found has made a tremendous difference in Santa Ana is the statewide and state-funded Community-Based English Tutoring, or CBET, program. The program offers free English classes and tutoring skills to adults with limited English proficiency so they can help their children succeed in school.

“They want to be good role models for their children, they want to be able to engage in their child’s academic achievement so the more they understand the process the better it is for them,” says Zaragoza, who has three grandchildren and one foster child, an English-learner, in SAUSD schools.”

“Though there is not yet any hard data, Santa Ana Unified’s CBET program specialist, Ana Landrian, says that anecdotal evidence shows that students of CBET parents are entering the school system more prepared than their counterparts whose parents aren’t attending any type of English classes. They also have better attendance rates.

“It’s really impacting the students” says Landrian.

The district’s CBET program began with 1,000 adults in 1999, but Zaragoza says she’s seen interest in the classes double. Today, the district serves 5,000 adults at 29 elementary and middle schools plus four community sites, and hopes to expand to more sites.”

And Assemblyman Jose Solorio finally did something right:

“Ironically, just as the governor was making his comments about pulling the plug on Spanish-language TV sets, the state’s Senate budget committee was suggesting slashing funding for CBET from $50 million to $15.1 million. Legislators like Solorio feared Schwarzenegger would back this move, despite the governor’s original budget proposal to fund the full $50 million for the program.

Solorio not only sent Schwarzenegger a letter asking him to honor his original commitment, he sent e-mail blasts to his constituents encouraging them to call and write to the governor. Solorio says that he too was concerned with Schwarzenegger’s statement at the NAHJ conference last month.”

And Zaragoza got the last word, “I would point my finger at him and say shame on you. He should visit the areas that have these problems before he makes those types of comments.”

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