Monday, February 28, 2005


A 13-year-old student in Orange County, Fla., was suspended for 10 days and could be banned from school over an alleged assault with a rubber band, according to a Local 6 News report. Robert Gomez, a seventh-grader at Liberty Middle School, said he picked up a rubber band at school and slipped it on his wrist. Gomez said when his science teacher demanded the rubber band, the student said he tossed it on her desk.

After the incident, Gomez received a 10-day suspension for threatening his teacher with what administrators say was a weapon, Local 6 News reported. "They said if he would have aimed it a little more and he would have gotten it closer to her face he would have hit her in the eye," mother Jenette Rojas said. Rojas said she was shocked to learn that her son was being punished for a Level 4 offense -- the highest Level at the school. Other violations that also receive level 4 punishment include arson, assault and battery, bomb threats and explosives, according to the Code of Student Conduct.

The district said a Level 4 offense includes the use of any object or instrument used to make a threat or inflict harm, including a rubber band. Rojas plans to fight the ruling but her son still faces expulsion. "It's ridiculous, it's a rubber band," Rojas said.

The school's principal could not comment because the case is still under investigation. A district spokesman said there is still a series of meetings the district will have before Gomez is officially expelled.


Bilingual education fails the kids but the Leftist elites still love it

(Of course! Keep the peasants in their place!)

When test scores came out recently showing that Latino immigrant kids are getting much better at reading and writing English, California Superintendent of Schools Jack O'Connell urged schools to find ways to move them out of special English and into mainstream classes. Good idea, since many can't get access to advanced placement courses for college so long as they're designated as "English learners" and kept too long in training-wheels-style English immersion classes.

I found it rich that O'Connell is urging schools to act. To a large degree, it's his fault they haven't. Under Proposition 227, immigrant children were only supposed to stay in special immersion for a year or so, then go to mainstream class. But O'Connell has refused to credit English immersion for soaring English literacy rates. His silence emboldens the anti-English ideologues who still strive to keep Latino kids in a separate world. Again this month, O'Connell refused to credit English immersion, telling the San Francisco Chronicle he won't guess why kids are learning English so well. Guess? Year after year, he's failed to crunch data that could compare kids still stuck in "bilingual" to those in English immersion. The state Board of Education finally ordered O'Connell to produce a study withthat in mind.

While we wait, I did my own study. I found that school districts like Los Angeles Unified - where moderate Democrats stamped out failing bilingual education amidst fierce lefty resistance - are producing big, lasting gains in English literacy. By contrast, districts controlled by left-wing Democrats with an attitude of "they won't be able to talk to grandma!" are producing smaller gains. In 2001, of 244,000 L.A. kids who weren't native English speakers, only 17 percent scored as "advanced or early advanced" on statewide English tests. Today, a stunning 49 percent get those high scores.

Back then, L.A. was paying 6,000 teachers a yearly bonus ($2,500 to $5,000) to teach in Spanish - the disastrous bilingual program. Now, only 679 teachers get the bonuses and teach "bilingual." See any pattern there, Mr. O'Connell?

By contrast, San Diego Unified was run by sad, fad-obsessed school honchos Alan Bersin and Tony Alvarado, who kowtowed to its anti-reform teachers union. It shows. In 2001, of 33,800 San Diego kids who weren't native English speakers, 24 percent got "advanced or early advanced" scores on the English tests. Today, 41 percent get those high scores - well behind L.A.

Virulently anti-Prop. 227 Berkeley Unified is almost frozen in place. In 2001, of the 1,000 Berkeley kids who weren't native English speakers, 42 percent scored "advanced or early advanced" on English tests. Today, 45 percent do. L.A. - far more urban and poverty-riddled - has blown past leafy Berkeley. O'Connell's silence emboldens these people. In Sacramento, legislators will soon hold education hearings aimed at dumbing-down Latino kids with a separate curriculum. The key guest speaker is an outrageous Pied Piper from the "bilingual" fiasco days, dead-wrong Canadian theorist Jim Cummins.

We should pray that pragmatic Democrats, the Republicans and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stop the hard left. But unfortunately, many Democrats are scared and Republicans are a minority in the Legislature. One pragmatic Democrat - Reed Hastings - just lost his job on the state Board of Education for defying the lefties on immersion.

While pragmatists from both parties base their views on facts, the left nurses its longtime religious fervor against immersion. Just to remind you how bad their fervor is, let's look back to 1998: Then-San Francisco school board President Carlota del Portillo declared that English immersion "has no educational basis and would set our students back 30 years." Jerry Perenchio, chief of Spanish-language Univision, spent $1.5 million fighting Prop. 227. A Republican, he adopted the views of lefty aides at Univision. One Perenchio aide derided English immersion - the most common method used in the United States - as an ''untested teaching method." Then-Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, now running for mayor of Los Angeles, denounced Prop. 227 as another Proposition 187. Then-state Sen. Richard Polanco insisted, "[Prop. 227] will do more damage to the [children] in the long run."

The left should grow up. Each year, California must educate a massive new influx of non-English speaking kids from Third World Mexico and other Central American countries, in numbers seen nowhere else in the nation. Ronni Ephraim, the gifted chief instructional officer at L.A. Unified, says Latino parents "recognize that at school their child should acquire a strong base of English, and at home they can support them in maintaining their home language. Parents want their children to be competitive."

So why is the Legislature still pursuing a separate curriculum and lower standards for Latinos, and inviting in one of the worst Pied Pipers of the bilingual fiasco? "I don't understand Sacramento," Ephraim told me. "Why would anyone want to hold a kid back?" Well, that's a true conundrum. But abetted by O'Connell's silence, that's precisely what's afoot.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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