English-Language Learners

Calif. School Board Member Recalled Over Prop. 227

By Mary Ann Zehr — February 12, 2003 1 min read

Nativo Lopez, a member of the Santa Ana, Calif., school board, was unseated last week in a special recall election supported by the anti-bilingual-education activist Ron K. Unz.

Mr. Unz, who contended that Mr. Lopez had impeded the implementation of California’s Proposition 227, contributed $100,000 for gathering the signatures required to support the election.

Mr. Lopez, who was in the middle of his second four-year term, lost the Feb. 4 recall election in the largely Hispanic voting district by a majority of 71 percent to 29 percent of the 12,600 votes cast.

Proposition 227, a ballot initiative written by Mr. Unz and approved by voters in 1998, curtails bilingual education in the state. Under the law, schools may provide bilingual education only to children whose parents have signed waivers to keep them out of the English-immersion instruction called for in the measure.

Bilingual education is an instructional method in which students are taught some subjects in their native languages while they are learning English.

Informing Parents

Voters chose Rob Richardson, a former school board member and Santa Ana city councilman as Mr. Lopez’s replacement, according to unofficial results that were expected to be certified this week.

Mr. Unz said Mr. Lopez’s loss of his post was another sign that bilingual education is not popular, even among Latinos.

Sal Tinajero, the president of the five-member Santa Ana school board, countered that bilingual education was only one of several issues at the center of Mr. Lopez’s ouster.

Mr. Lopez didn’t impede the implementation of Proposition 227 in the 62,000-student school system, but he persisted in informing parents about their children’s right to bilingual education through the waiver process, Mr. Tinajero added.

“If anything, Ron Unz dropped the ball because he didn’t write [the law] as airtight as he should have,” Mr. Tinajero said. “Parents have the right to choose.”

Mr. Lopez did not return phone calls last week seeking comment on his defeat.

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