Student against 31 |

Student against 31

Mary Ramirez, Student, Battle Mountain High School

I was born in Dallas, Texas, and was raised right on the border of El Paso, Texas, and Mexico. As a little girl I knew only Spanish and most of my friends knew the same language as well, and none of us were immigrants. There were some kids in our community who spoke Spanish and English because their parents wanted them to be more productive in life and speak two languages.

So, because I didn’t speak English back then, am I supposed to believe all the money the school spent on all of its Latinos was a waste of money? Of course not.

I’m not going to be a high school dropout. I have college plans and so do my friends back in Texas. Some of my friends are already in college. So be careful with what you vote for if you vote for Amendment 31.

For example, in section 18 parts D-F, it states the following:

D) The public schools of Colorado do an inadequate job of educating immigrant children, wasting financial resources on costly experimental native language programs whose failure over past decades is demonstrated by the current high dropout rates and low English literacy levels of many immigrant children.

For starters, not all these children are immigrants. They’re regular students. So stop calling them that, because at one point all of you might have been, too. This money is not going to waste because these students are learning. Furthermore, they don’t even get that much money because there aren’t that many Spanish speaking kids in school compared to the rest of the student body.

Note one thing: not all of high school dropouts are Hispanics. There are also other demographics that contribute to that number. So what’s their excuse? Hispanics who drop out mostly do it because they don’t understand what they are doing in the English language. Putting a time limit on these students and more pressure is not going to help.

E) Young immigrant children can easily acquire full fluency in a new language, such as English, if they are heavily exposed to that language in the classroom at an early age. Yeah, one year is enough if you’re like in first grade when your vocabulary is not that expanded. But in high school your vocabulary is huge and to learn a new language in one year, that’s not just stupid, it’s impossible.

F) Therefore it is resolved that: all children in Colorado public schools shall be taught English rapidly and effectively as possible. Now, no one is arguing that kids need to learn English as fast as they can, but a year is not going to do. The reality is you need to give these students time.

Amendment 31, in a way, judges us by the language we speak. The people who support this amendment are not living up to the standards of the U.S, where it is said to be the land of opportunity.

So don’t get on these students’ cases. Give them a chance. Your ancestors got a chance, and thanks to them you’re here. These kids want to learn and they will, if given the time. If you’ve never tried to talk to these students, try it some time. They have as much, or sometimes, even more potential than your average English-speaking teen-ager. All they need is encouragement. They are grateful for the help they get, so don’t vote yes on this amendment. You would be taking away that little push they have from their teachers and friends. They are happy to be in class and to have a chance.

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