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Over the last few months I’ve been much too preoccupied with my Harvard University Overseer project to pay much attention to the unfolding saga of the presidential race; I’ve closely read my morning newspapers as I always do, but not watched a single one of the endless debates. Still, even out of the corner of my mind’s-eye, the rise of Donald Trump certainly seems the political story of the decade or even the half-century, with the loud-mouthed Reality TV star now having a good chance of seizing the Republican Party nomination against the ferocious opposition of nearly every significant Republican faction and pundit.
But although I’ve been just as surprised at this remarkable development as anyone else, in hindsight perhaps my astonishment was more than it should have been. Based on absolutely everything I’ve read in my daily NYT+WSJ, Trump certainly seems an ignorant buffoon and a loose cannon, but being a loose cannon, he rolls around randomly, not infrequently in the correct direction, which is more than I can say for nearly all of his Republican rivals.
Consider the Iraq War and its aftermath, surely one of the central geopolitical developments of the last few decades. In the mid-2000s, my old friend Bill Odom, the three-star general who ran the NSA for Ronald Reagan, accurately characterized the war as “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.” Yet today that calamitous legacy and its five trillion dollar total cost is warmly embraced by many of the top Republican leaders and publicly criticized by almost none of them.
However, just a couple of weeks ago, Trump blasted the war and the Bush Administration lies behind it on nationwide television during a Republican debate, inducing total shock within the Republican commentariat, shock that turned into apoplexy when he immediately afterward won a landslide victory in ultra-rightwing and pro-military South Carolina. Sometimes a single bold and honest statement delivered on national television can cut through endless layers of media lies and propaganda, and I only regret that Gen. Odom was no longer around to witness it.
Earlier this year, an ardent Trump supporter declared that his favored candidate was 95% a clown but 5% a patriot, and therefore stood head-and-shoulders above his Republican rivals, and this sounds about right to me.
The sheer worthlessness of today’s Republicans was brought home to me more directly in the last couple of weeks as I undertook a long-deferred but sadly necessary task.
As many are probably aware, my most significant achievement to date has been the series of “English for the Children” initiative campaigns I launched starting in the late 1990s, campaigns which over a few years time largely dismantled America’s disastrous system of Spanish-almost-only so-called “bilingual education” first in California and then across the rest of the country. The results were so overwhelmingly compelling, both educationally and politically, that the “English Wars” successfully concluded over a decade ago, with the failed programs largely disappearing from the schools and the very term itself almost entirely vanishing from the lexicon of the national media.
These days, it is naturally assumed by everyone that young immigrant children will easily learn English within a few months of starting school, and many millions have successfully done so, with enormous consequences for the future of American society. The entire controversy has been long forgotten by almost everyone.
Unfortunately, back in 2014 the California Republicans voted without dissent to place on the November 2016 ballot a measure completely repealing my old “English for the Children” Prop. 227 initiative and encouraging the reestablishment of Spanish-almost-only instruction throughout California public schools. Although at the time I wrote a couple of columns denouncing and ridiculing their stupidity, there really wasn’t much else I could do with the vote being so far away, and since I was heavily preoccupied with other matters, I placed the matter on the shelf:
But 2016 has finally arrived, and in late February I decided I might as well begin organizing a No campaign for the November vote. So with considerable annoyance I dragged 25 large boxes of my old “English” materials out of the storage unit in which they’d been quietly gathering dust for over a dozen years, and began sorting through the contents.
My nostalgia was enormous. I looked over hundreds of news stories from leading publications all across America—left, right, and center—declaring the total failure of bilingual education and the remarkable, almost astonishing success of “English for the Children.” Although all of these news articles and many others are still available on our old “English” website in HTML form, the dramatic improvements in bandwidth and storage since the early 2000s have now allowed me to scan the articles themselves and display them in their original form, which much better preserves their original impact. All of this old material is now available in PDF packages on the simple but utilitarian “Keep English for the Children” website that I built over the last couple of days, located at www.KeepEnglish.org.
Given that a younger generation of journalists and political activists may never have even heard of “bilingual education,” there are considerable public benefits for their convenient access to these stories of the past, allowing them to learn from the hard-won wisdom of their elders. Therefore, here are links to some of the (rather large) PDF packages containing much of this important material:
- Origins of the Prop. 227 in the 1996 Latino Boycott
- Clips from the Early 227 Campaign
- Jaime Escalante and Fernando Vega Endorsements for Prop. 227
- Gregory Rodriguez Articles
- SJ Mercury News Articles
- California Lawyer Feature
- The Economist Profile
- Clips from the Late 227 Campaign
- The Perenchio/Univision Attacks on Prop. 227
- Statewide Prop. 227 Polls
- Prop. 227 Text and Arguments
- Prop. 227 Brochure
- Initial Resistance to Prop. 227
- State Media: California Schools After One Year
- National Media: California Scores After Two Years
- English Tutoring Program
- Washington Post Columns
- Santa Cruz Schools
- California Test Scores After Four Years
- The Arizona Campaign
- NYC Local Coverage
- NYT Magazine Feature
- The Early and Later Colorado Campaign
- The Massachusetts Campaign
- CommonWealth Magazine Feature
- Massachusetts, Colorado Results
- Nativo Lopez Recall in Santa Ana, CA
Also, a couple of hundred television clips and interviews, including numerous long debates, one of them held at Harvard University, are available at our YouTube Channel: