Archive for Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Official language bill advances

House adds grant to fund English classes for immigrants

February 21, 2007

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— The Kansas House on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would make English the official language of Kansas.

But first, the measure was amended to include up to $500,000 to fund English classes for adult immigrants.

Melinda Lewis, an immigrant advocate, opposed the original "official language" bill but said the inclusion of funds to help people learn English would improve the legislation.

"It's more an English promotion bill now instead of an anti-other-languages bill," said Lewis, director of public advocacy and research at El Centro Inc. in Kansas City, Kan. "Without the amendment, it was sending a rather ugly and meaningless message."

House Bill 2140 was approved 118-2. The House is expected to give final approval today to send the bill to the Senate for consideration.

The proposed $500,000 competitive grant for adult-education English classes was placed in the bill by an amendment by state Rep. Sue Storm, D-Overland Park.

But the funds are not guaranteed and will become a reality in the budget only if later approved by the Legislature.

Rep. Don Myers, R-Derby, pushed English as the official state language, saying it would encourage immigrants to learn English and increase their employment opportunities.

"I consider this a work force-building bill, an economic development bill," Myers said.

Although it makes English the official language, the bill gives local and state agencies the flexibility to print or make available documents in other languages.

Opponents criticized the measure as meaningless, saying English already is understood to be the state's common language.

Rep. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said the bill was based in anti-immigrant feelings "born out of fear more than anything else" and would send out another "negative message" about Kansas.

Rep. Dale Swenson, R-Wichita, criticized debate over a "nearly empty" bill while more important issues went unresolved, such as expanding health care insurance.

Storm said the bill encouraged immigrants to learn English but provided no help in that direction.

"Let's put our money where our mouth is," Storm said in advocating for the $500,000 English instructional funds.

Storm said that various English language programs in her district had long waiting lists. If approved, the $500,000 also would draw down $300,000 in federal funds, she said.

Comments

languagerights 8 years, 6 months ago

To "army guy": Any agency receiving federal monies is required to provide reasonable language accomodations to Limited English Proficient adults and children. That means that regardless of the "language" (NOT the "ethnicity"...that is a different term entirely), agencies must provide interpreters or use an interpreter line. This bill, if you have read it, indicates that agencies must continue to comply with federal law. It is NOT left up to local discretion.

armyguy 8 years, 6 months ago

Yes it allows governmental documents to be printed in other languages. It does not mandate that everything be printed in many other languages; it is left to each official function.

This bill will reduce the amount that some governments will have to spend because they will not be forced to have translators for every ethnic group that locates within their borders.

preebo 8 years, 6 months ago

This bill wil do absolutely nothing in terms of regulating other languages. There will still be ESL in schools and there will be options for those who do not speak english. This bill clearly states English as the "official" language, and not the only language.

...In effect, doing nothing, but giving the Rural Kansan that warm and fuzzy feeling that his language is the "official" language of the state. This is a prime example of transparent legislation. This will do nothing to cut spending nor illegal immigration. If anything the state just spent money on this ridiculous piece of legislation to begin with.

languagerights 8 years, 6 months ago

To "Kuku-Kansas": There is something called English PLUS, which encourages immigrants to learn English while at the same time encouraging native English speakers to learn other languages (Chinese, Arabic, Spanish). Please contact your legislator/Senator and ask them to propose an amendment that will, within the same bill, encourage the acquisition of other languages. I agree that the time spent on this bill is not the best use of our time. But it is here and we can still work to make it a better bill.

Kuku_Kansas 8 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like this bill:

  • campaign tool to "re-elect me, I support English only"

  • obviously doesn't make other languages illegal, which some actually were hoping for

  • still allow official/governmental documents to be printed in other languages, all at Kansas taxpayers expense

  • will provide $500,000 in grant money to adult-education classes to teach English to adults that do not know English

So, just to recap for everybody....the KANSAS LEGISLATURE IS WASTING YOUR VALUABLE TIME AND MONEY WHEN THEY COULD ACTUALLY BE WORKING FOR YOU, THE KANSAS PEOPLE!

Kuku_Kansas 8 years, 6 months ago

Well if that local government's role is to work for the people and is comprised of its people...of course there will be vital information translated. This happens whether English is the "official language" or not.

This is just stupid and a waste of time.

P.S. I wonder if all these elected officials favor English-only campaign literature and translations of their speeches.

P.P.S. Newsflash: White, English-speaking native Kansans are leaving northern, southern and western parts of the state in a hurry, being replaced by cultural populations that may not speak English predominately. Better embrace and work with them quickly...they will be your constituents.

languagerights 8 years, 6 months ago

"preebo": Unless the $500,000 are appropriated, this bill WILL be meaningless. You are correct.

languagerights 8 years, 6 months ago

"Reality_Check": During the hearing for this bill, a member of the Kickapoo tribe appeared in opposition to the bill. And in Alaska, efforts to pass Official English legislation failed, largely because Native tribal groups fought against it. I wish that we could all recognize the tangible damage that restrictive language policies have had in our country and could continue to have unless we change our perspective.

Kuku_Kansas 8 years, 6 months ago

languagerights--

Thank you for that response. I will gladly look into the English Plus program. Sounds like a great idea!

Jamesaust 8 years, 6 months ago

This isn't really a pro-English bill. Should anyone have read it (what? 1 out of 10,000 people), one would see that it says: 'English is the official language of Kansas' and then spends three more pages of text undermining the implication of that statement in virtually any situation that is likely to arise.

The $500k is fake. Its tacked onto the end with two qualifiers: 1. if appropriated separately, 2. the rest of the bill is valid if nothing gets funded ever.

There's a reason politicians create a fake crisis.

Prediction: not one person will speak English any better as a result of this bill. Meanwhile, continuing unaddressed - the children of the state remain as poorly proficient in English as ever. Hmmm....maybe something can be done next year about that? Or maybe not.

Meanwhile, English will join the list of official state insect, official state tree, official state fossil, and official state fish.

8 years, 6 months ago

It's pretty despicable to tack on that meaningless funding just to make it look as though they are not bigoted for supporting this bill. What a total waste of time and resources. Hey legislators: Please focus on the issues that matter to Kansans.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 6 months ago

English only is common sense. It is NOT, as many knee jerks characterize, biggoted intolerance.

English is the predominant language of this country. If one comes to this country legally, we assume their intention is to assimilate into the culture and stay permanently. The way to assimilate, economically, culturally and socially, is principally through common language. English was the language present at our Country's founding, english is the language that is iconic of American heritage through the ages. American english embodies American culture.

Immigrants who want to succeed in America by in large must have a command of the english language. It gives them access to job opportunites that are beyond the level of hard labor. It allows them to attend higher education. It allows them to participate in the American national discourse. Having an english only law adopts a public policy that encourages immigrants to adopt the official language and thereby encourage quicker assimilation into American culture.

The notion of "diversity" as it relates to language and cultural is flawed argument. America's success as a nation is the result of a federalist system. At the core of our federalist system is unity among the states, not diversity. A recent examination of Iraq and Bosnia teaches us that extreme cultural differences, or excessive diversity between cultures, fosters disunity, misunderstanding, and eventually war and suffering. The same argument might be made for our own civil war. That is, the cultures between the north and south became to polarized over the issue of slavery and state rights, that brothers ended up shedding one another's blood. So, while the concept of diversity should be applauded, the best policy is a united nation with a common culture at its core. The primary vehicle to accomplishing and ensuring a unified culture is an official language. Since english is the icon of American heritage, it is natural that english be selected as the official language.

Last, english only serves an economic purpose. There are significant government costs associated with accomodating dual languages. Accomodating multiple languages increases court costs, administrative costs and generally stands to disjoin the continuity between local, state and federal governments through misunderstanding.

English only is not a bigoted attempt to supress minority cultures. It a reasonable policy stance to encourage immigrant assimilation and maintain a unified federalist system. Some that post on here seem more than willing to see our federalist system be replaced with civil unrest and cultural fragmentation. Their accusations of bigotry and intolerance are an emotional ploy to avoid the real issues from being discussed.

KS 8 years, 6 months ago

I see nothing ugly or bigoted about this, unless you are an illegal immigrant, in which case.........well????

jonas 8 years, 6 months ago

The loaded term bigoted gets thrown around way too much. It should be added to that list of irritating and overused words for the end of the year.

Not ugly or bigoted, just useless, and does not address the problem in any meaningful way.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

"I wish that we could all recognize the tangible damage that restrictive language policies have had in our country and could continue to have unless we change our perspective."

ANd I wish idiots like you would look at Europe and the lack of assimilation when groups are not allowed to or not encouraged assimilate. As in France, you get a lot of burned cars and nights of riots because of the self-disenfranchisement that comes from not assimilating. The first step in assimilation is COMMUNICATION! ANd that MUST be the PREVAILING LANGUAGE. Language is THE ONLY COMMONALITY usually in a culture. ANd in the AMERICAN CULTURE (yes ther is one but it is eroding) the language of commonality is ENGLISH!!!!

You idiots need to understand the hippie crystal gripping nonsense does NOT WORK in today's world and is only nostalgia for the 1960's. It is not a viable principal, philosophy, or political position.

Get over it, everyone DOES NOT have the right to come here. Everybody in the world is not necessarily a good person. Additionally, THE US of A is a GREAT country and will ony continue to do so with some "cultural maintenance". ANd that is control the borders, and moke those coming here ADJUST TO the US< and not make THE US adjust TO THEM!!!!

IDIOTS!!!! YOU are the bigoted ones, Anti American self haters.

Get a clue!

languagerights 8 years, 6 months ago

"Rationalanimal": Thank you for your comments. You write well. However, numerous political scientists have researched and published compelling arguments that indicate that language is not the divisive issue that results in conflict. Nor, does it solve or end conflict. In Bosnia, Rwanda, and yes, as you mentioned, here in the United States, conflict has arisen and race/language/ethnicity have become tools wielded to oppress and to suppress. In Rwanda, power was the issue, yet race became the dividing line (There was/is no real, definable difference between the Hutus and the Tutsis). And that "line" was drawn, not by Hutus or Tutsis, but by the European colonizers. While language has been discussed on the North American continent since we began to draw plans to establish the United States (during the Continental Congress, the notion of an official language was discussed and then abandoned, because it was perceived as too authoritarian), it has more often become a hot, political issue during times of increased immigration and intense language restrictions have, in the past, led to ridiculous hatred and intolerance towards other languages. Our political culture is not built on language. Language is a personal vehicle of communication that can differ from person to person and from group to group. Our mottos, emblems, flags, etc. carry latin phrases and yet some among us continue to argue that English-only is who we are. Our history is longer and more diverse than JUST English.

KS 8 years, 6 months ago

couranna1 - why don't you and the horse you rode in on, take a hike and just leave the good ole USA, if you don't like it here? Anything more about this place that you can complain about?

Rationalanimal 8 years, 6 months ago

languagerights

It is refreshing to know there are those that, while we have differing viewpoints, can discuss issues and arguments with civility and respect. It is from that discourse that different viewpoints can reach truth. You have restored my optimism.

There is well researched evidence suggesting there are significant benefits to english only. See the for example the website http://www.us-english.org/inc/official/factsfigs.asp.

The benefits to immigrants, especially economically, reverberate as benefits to existing American citizens. Finally, there is compelling philosophy on language that one's culture is expressed through his/her language. This then moves us towards unified American culture. California is a great example of assimilation being stymied by language differences. It is all too common for neighborhoods to be divided by race and especially language. The cost to California schools to teach in multiple languages is a signifcant burden. The point being, a multiple language culture carries heavy economic burdens.

Tom McCune 8 years, 6 months ago

I just wish everyone could WRITE American english as well as Rationalanimal.

languagerights 8 years, 6 months ago

"asbestos": I, personally, love the United States. And, I love Kansas The rioters in the suburbs of France were predominantly of Arab and African descent. They were wrong to damage property and to hurt people.

You may want to know that those individuals who were rioting could probably speak French as well as a white, French-speaking teenager their age. Reporters quoted them as speaking French, without the use of a translator.

So, you believe that rioters riot because they refuse to assimilate? Would you make the same argument that people in the United States riot because they are illegal immigrants and refuse to assimilate? Do you know that during the Los Angeles riots of 1992, the rioters were Asian, WHITE, black, and hispanic, mostly young men? Do you know that there were multiple factors that precipitated the 1992 Los Angeles riots, including: 1)extremely high unemployment 2) a perception that the (LAPD) engaged in racial profiling and used excessive force

Could you really argue that the events of 1992 were isolated and due to "self-disenfranchisement that comes from not assimilating" (your words)?

Culture is a wonderful thing. Language is NOT the only commonality. And people who feel disenfranchised and are angry should not resort to violence. Those who do not resort to violence and who are still asking for more rights, more respect, more humane treatment, better health care, fewer disparities in salary and pay, better treatment from the police (I certainly would not a police officer to pull me over just because I live in a bad neighborhood or look like someone on their "list"), etc., DESERVE respect and should not be dismissed on the basis that they simply are not assimilating.

Tens of thousands (if not more) of people in our nation are denied, on a daily basis, adequate housing, food and education. It is inappropriate to insinuate that if those people demand their rights, then they are disenfranchised because they refuse to assimilate.

languagerights 8 years, 6 months ago

"rationalanimal": Thank you for your positive feedback. I will look into the link you sent.

Jamesaust 8 years, 6 months ago

rational - That was a beautiful commendation of English.

The question is: what are we to do about it? As noted earlier, this bill does nothing to further English.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 6 months ago

Were it not for American, Ireland would currently be known as Weit Westlich Bayern.

Rationalanimal 8 years, 6 months ago

Jamesaust,

I've pondered your question. For starters, I must reveal a personal sympathy towards the presumption that often the best solutions are the most simple. Being said, I think it is in the interest of goverments, especially states, to provide english language courses to immigrants. The curriculum is definitely there if the will and funding is behind it. My thought is that all or the bulk of funding should come from the federal government level and then implemented at the state level. The funding from the federal level is appropriate since Congress ultimately has constitutional control over immigration. Implementing the language curriculum at a state level seems the most appropriate since the state level is the right balance between local attention and national attention. The rest are details I suppose. Generally, Kansas addressing this issue is comendable. Although, for english only to work, since it is couched as a national issue, is appropriately solved at the national level, Congress. So, the overall conclusion is to get the ball rolling at the national level and then allow the states to implement the majority of the minor details (with a degree of Congressional oversight to ensure standardization). I await your thoughts.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

From a clueless moron:

"So, you believe that rioters riot because they refuse to assimilate? Would you make the same argument that people in the United States riot because they are illegal immigrants and refuse to assimilate? Do you know that during the Los Angeles riots of 1992, the rioters were Asian, WHITE, black, and hispanic, mostly young men? Do you know that there were multiple factors that precipitated the 1992 Los Angeles riots, including: 1)extremely high unemployment 2) a perception that the (LAPD) engaged in racial profiling and used excessive force"

We know these things happen. And yes, MOST of these immigrants in France did not speak french. Additionally since you brought up the LA area, that is where the latino gangs are killing African American Citizens. Yes, it is racial hatred, on the part of the Latinos. It is lack of assimilation, and it is lack of commonality. Language and communication makes that commonality happen, as common communications is where civilizations start.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Languagerights posts and revises history:

"In Rwanda, power was the issue, yet race became the dividing line (There was/is no real, definable difference between the Hutus and the Tutsis). And that "line" was drawn, not by Hutus or Tutsis, but by the European colonizers."

The colonizers were gone and were not killing anyone. The Hutus and Tutsis were killing each other without outside influence. That is BS and wrong what you posted.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""

From the Languagerights person again:

"Could you really argue that the events of 1992 were isolated and due to "self-disenfranchisement that comes from not assimilating" (your words)?"

No but the latino violence visited upon our African Citizens by the latinos, most of whom are NOT citizens is due to self disenfranchisment AND Latino aggrandisment. IE RACIST!!!!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Culture is a wonderful thing."

As long as in your opinion it supercedes the American Culture or is given more weight than American Culture.

"Language is NOT the only commonality."

True, but it IS the MAIN commonality.

"And people who feel disenfranchised and are angry should not resort to violence."

Yeah, they shouldn't but they often do. Take the Islamic Fanatics, any time they are "embarrassed" thjey use it as a reason to throw a full culture side temper tantrum, kill people and bomb things. Remember, I stated this about "Fanatical Islamic" yahoos, not Islam as a whole, so I don't want to hear the "bigot" BS.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"Tens of thousands (if not more) of people in our nation are denied, on a daily basis, adequate housing, food and education."

Yes, we do have a lot of CITIZENS we need to take care of BEFORE any wondering illegal alien that invites themselves into this country and demand services and rights they do not get in Mexico.

EXACTLY what COOL posted. He is correct.

The vote in Kansas shows what is happening nation wide: Citizens are getting GD sick and tired of illegal aliens. 118-2 was the vote.

So accept that those of you supporting this illegal alien trash are a VERY SMALL MINORITY. You should now shut up while we resume normal immigration policy and enforcement of our Countries laws.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

You F'ing illegal alien supporters need to check this out in the LJWorld. How many US Citizens have to die because these illegal aliens cannot read, are not supposed to be in the country, AND have a fraudlent DL??? How many??

How much of your fellow countrymen's blood is enough?????

You say it is not a problem. Tell that the these US Citizen's families.

Jamesaust 8 years, 6 months ago

rational - interesting thoughts.

  1. as the "problem" is felt most keenly on a local basis, regardless of whatever metaphysical 'inbox' the problem should lie in, since the benefits of alleviating the problem are captured locally, shouldn't the solution then flow locally?

Alternately, since your answer beggers off responsibility for the State, shouldn't the proponents honestly admit then that their bill will not solve - nor attempt to solve - what they identify as a problem?

Or are you saying that the benefits of such wide-spread English speech so small (the reciprocal of saying that the problem is tiny to non-existent) that English instruction wouldn't pay the taxpayers back in benefits?

  1. isn't education first, last, and always a state not a federal concern? If federal, where is there any evidence of any Kansas officeholder demanding funds for this? If you can "earmark" money for a bridge to nowhere, or for raspberry research, why can't our (worthless) Senators earmark a mere $500k for this issue? If this is truly a problem, then this amount should be a bargain to solve it. There's nothing extraordinarily expense about this, its just that the only existing programs are for children.

  2. aren't most 'English-poor' speakers living here under a fully legal - sometimes even as citizens - status? how is language then a federal problem? How does this differ from state funding of education 125 years ago to teach various Germans, Poles, Swedes, etc. to speak English?

Jamesaust 8 years, 6 months ago

"How much of your fellow countrymen's blood is enough?"

A new low. To spit on the 32,000 non-U.S. citizens now deployed in the armed forces in addition to the 10,000 non-U.S. citizens in our military reserves. To think: they risk their lives and even die for YOU.

"You should now shut up while we resume normal immigration policy and enforcement of our Countries laws."

The last Congress had an opportunity to act on immigration reform. The wackos controlling it - well, the House - were so determined to not listen that they insisted on doing NOTHING rather than reach a consensus. The result: nothing got done except the voters tossed out the do-nothing-ers. Enough of the Timothy McVeigh wing of the Republican Party.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

"3. aren't most 'English-poor' speakers living here under a fully legal - sometimes even as citizens - status?"

Assumption on your part James. Over 1,000,000 have entered our country illegally for over a decade now. SO no, I doubt that the "majority" are here legally. That is a bias your project with your political affiliation.

sublimeks 8 years, 6 months ago

Two official languages for the U.S. (and Kansas)-

  1. English
  2. American Sign Language

cowgomoo 8 years, 6 months ago

Posted by snap_pop_no_crackle (anonymous) on February 21, 2007 at 2:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Were it not for American, Ireland would currently be known as Weit Westlich Bayern.

======================== Ha! That reminds me of my favorite Al Franken story, Franken was being interviewed by a Danish reporter who said, "Senator Dole is so old. How can you vote for a man who's so old?" And Franken said, "Well, look, he was young enough to save your sorry a**."

white_mountain 8 years, 6 months ago

This is a well-crafted, Comprehensive bill that reinforces English as the language all immigrants should seek to become proficient in, and also provides the resources to help make it happen.

jonas 8 years, 6 months ago

Asbestos: I don't know if you're aware of it, but you're starting to wear your disguise a bit thin. As you're attacks get more profane and outlandish, it becomes more and more obvious that the whole point to your posting existence is to anger and offend. I don't know how seriously your trying to maintain an image of credibility of opinion, so I thought I'd point it out to you. Cheers.

Jamesaust 8 years, 6 months ago

"Over 1,000,000 have entered our country illegally for over a decade now. SO no, I doubt that the "majority" are here legally."

Per the Office of Immigration Statistics of the Homeland Security Department, the number of permanent resident permits issued in 2005 alone was 1,122,373. The Chairman rules that a "majority" has been counted.

That doesn't count the 32,003,435 "non-immigrant" people admitted.

(Note: "non-immigrant" admission is by far the most common means by which persons - later - become "illegal" aliens, i.e., their temporary admission expires without their leaving. In short, just like terrorists, they arrive with the government's blessing, not across the (Mexican only, of course) border.)

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