Presidential Candidates’ Views on Bilingual Education

By Mary Ann Zehr — November 27, 2007 2 min read
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Five Democrats running for U.S. president back bilingual education, and two Republicans running for the position oppose it. That’s what the Hispanic Link Weekly Report learned when it posed the following question to the staff of 17 politicians competing in the presidential primaries that begin Jan. 3: “What is your candidate’s position, if any, on bilingual education?”

Hispanic Link Weekly Report, a national newsletter about Hispanic issues available only by subscription, published a summary of the views of the seven candidates who responded to the survey in its Nov. 26 issue. With permission from Hispanic Link, I post the summaries here, quoted word for word:


Hillary Clinton: “Senator Clinton supports the notion that children will learn more efficiently by being taught in their native language while learning English at the same time.” —Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli, the Clinton campaign’s Hispanic communications director.

Bill Richardson: “Bilingual education is a part of guaranteeing equal education for all American students.” —deputy communication director Katie Roberts, quoting the candidate.

Chris Dodd: “As a bilingual Spanish speaker himself, Sen. Dodd has long been very supportive of bilingual education.” —campaign spokesperson Colleen Flanagan.

John Edwards: “We’re for bilingual education.” —political director David Medina.

Barack Obama: Obama believes the federal government should be doing more to encourage transitional bilingual education.” —e-mail reply from his campaign.


Mitt Romney: “He believes immersion is the best method for learning the English language.” —spokesman Alex Burgos.

Tom Tancredo: “He thinks that classes should be in English only. He thinks English should be the official language in the U.S. and everything should be printed in English.” —press secretary Alan Moore.

The article notes that the staff of the other 10 presidential candidates didn’t provide responses before the newsletter went to press. It also reports that while a spokesman for Mr. Romney didn’t tell Hispanic Link specifically that the former governor of Massachusetts opposes bilingual education, Mr.Romney has told his supporters in speeches that he fought for the end of bilingual education in Massachusetts, so Hispanic Link concludes he opposes the educational method.

The fact that Hispanic Link conducted a survey of presidential candidates’ views on bilingual education indicates that some Latino voters out there care what methods are available to schools for teaching English to ELLs.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.