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Bilingual Expert Named Director Of U.S. English

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U.S. English, the group that has led the effort to have English declared the nation's official language, has selected a former director of the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education as its executive director.

Officials of the advocacy group said their selection of Ronald E. Saunders, who headed the federally funded clearinghouse from 1986 to 1989, bolstered their assertion that U.S. English is not opposed in principle to bilingual education.

But leaders of the National Association for Bilingual Education and other groups opposed to the official-English movement said the appointment did little to weaken their mistrust of U.S. English, which has lobbied to change state language-minority education policies to provide more instruction in English and had campaigned for several of the official-English laws now in place in 18 states.

Mr. Saunders, who became executive director of U.S. English this summer, said his decision to accept the post did not signal that he has dropped his support for bilingual education.

U.S. English has never opposed the teaching method, he asserted. Rather, it "has allowed itself to be defined by others" as such.

Mr. Saunders said he will actively promote a more positive image of the organization as favoring bilingual education as long as children enrolled in such programs also learn English.

Mr. Saunders added that many bilingual-education groups oppose U.S. English because they "are much happier to have an enemy than to have another colleague."

"If you have an enemy, you get more press attention," he noted.

Mr. Saunders succeeds Kathryn Bricker, who has been made a special assistant to Stanley Diamond, the organization's chairman.

Mr. Saunders most recently served as director of business development for MetaTech Corporation of McLean, Va., which produces educational and training materials for the United States Information Agency and international businesses.

He was vice president of COSMIS Corporation of Silver Spring, Md., from October 1985 until last March, where he directed the bilingual education clearinghouse and managed several other U.S. Education Department contracts.--PS

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