By Matt Salusbury
This article first appeared in the English language teaching industry trade paper English Language Gazette, March 2008
The superintendent of a rural school district in the US state of Nevada has ordered Hispanic children to speak only English during their journeys on the school bus.
School district superintendent Robert Aumagher’s letter of 12 October 2007 announcing the ban went to thirty families in Dyer, a small farming community close to the California border. Most of the children whose families received the letters had been in the US for a year or less. Letters from the Esmeralda County School District announcing the ban were translated into Spanish.
The English-only edict appears to have followed an incident on the school bus in which a student was ‘disrespectful’ to the driver or a tutor, according to school board member Rita Gillum, who voted for the order. She could not provide details of the incident when interviewed by the Las Vegas Sun, but said that when the school bus driver ‘has no idea what they were talking about it can be very disrespectful’.
Newly arrived immigrant children ask for help with their homework from students who are more bilingual, and parents say that their children are now afraid to discuss homework assignments on the school bus.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada believes that the English-only order violates the US Constitution, and ‘students have a right to free speech, just like anybody else’.
In January 2007 English-speaking students were excluded from their school bus in St Paul, Minnesota after the route had been turned into a mobile Hmong-language supplementary school for the local Indochinese ethnic minority.
Copyright: English Language Gazette