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The cultural war may cost Ripon teacher her job

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POSTED June 8, 2010 4:49 a.m.

Limited-English-proficient students have the same right to a quality education as all California students. For these students to have access to quality education, their special needs must be met by teachers who have essential skills and knowledge related to English language development, specially designed content instruction delivered in English, and content instruction delivered in the students’ primary languages.  - California Education Code

Terry Messick by all indications is an effective teacher.

So why is Ripon Unified’s top bass trying to dismiss the popular 30-year Ripon High performing arts teacher?

She is defying Sacramento.

The same genre of people - they like to call themselves legislators - that gave murderers and rapists in prison conjugal visits, tried to give illegal aliens driver’s licenses that are a privilege reserved for law-abiding citizens, and other such nonsense believe any public school teacher must be capable of teaching kids who don’t speak English well. We’re not talking about kids with speech impediments. These are kids who for whatever reason have parents who are immigrants - legal or otherwise - who do not see a pressing need for their sons and daughters to speak the primary language of the country they have taken up residence.

Messick refused to take the Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) certificate course. It is what eduracts in Sacramento who were miffed about the voters’ rejection of bilingual education and the subsequent rise in the state test scores of immigrants once they started learning in English came up with to prove they know what is best.

One might ask why the school board simply didn’t defy the state on this one. The answer is easy. They feared being sued.

One of the biggest charades played on a daily basis in California is that somehow local school boards assert local control. Guess again. A small army of educarts in several big boxes on Capital Mall in Sacramento are the ones that dictate what really goes on in any public school in this state.

This isn’t a tough call if you take the position that being CLAD certified is a condition of continuing employment for any teacher in California.

But if you ask the question why the entire state should turn itself upside down for immigrants - and their offspring - from other countries, it’s not a tough call either.

Unfortunately, the guillotine is controlled by those who bow to state law regardless of how George Orwellian those laws may be.

But before you smugly remark that jobs are hard to come by and she should have fallen in line if she wanted a paycheck keep in mind there are already some jurisdictions that post jobs such as for police officers that give preference to those who can speak another language besides English.

Give Sacramento time. Pretty soon all state employees may have to speak Spanish - or if they work in areas with other ethnic concentrations - languages such as Vietnamese, Chinese and so forth.

It won’t stop there, of course. Anyone who wants to do business with the state through contract work ultimately may be forced to meet the same requirements.

None of this should surprise you. We’ve become a virtual Tower of Babel in California.

Besides English the California Department of Motor Vehicles offers the written driver license exam in Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Persian/Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalong/Filipino, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Somewhere the proverbial line has to be drawn in the sand.

English must be recognized as the official language of this country.

There are those who argue that it would be un-American to adopt such a requirement.

The Declaration of Independence wasn’t written in Spanish.

Nor was it penned in Hmong, French or Swahili.

This perhaps explains why the framers of the Constitution probably didn’t even consider the question of designating an official language for the new United States of America.

Commerce and government was being conducted in English.

Perhaps Messick was just in a defiant mood. Or perhaps she understood that the more you dilute the potency of what’s taught in a classroom by catering to native tongues, the more you weaken that great mixture known as the American Melting Pot.

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