This one pisses me off. Fuckin' Kansas again. From the WaPo
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Dec. 8 -- Most of the time, 16-year-old Zach Rubio converses in clear, unaccented American teen-speak, a form of English in which the three most common words are "like," "whatever" and "totally." But Zach is also fluent in his dad's native language, Spanish -- and that's what got him suspended from school.
"It was, like, totally not in the classroom," the high school junior said, recalling the infraction. "We were in the, like, hall or whatever, on restroom break. This kid I know, he's like, 'Me prestas un dolar?' ['Will you lend me a dollar?'] Well, he asked in Spanish; it just seemed natural to answer that way. So I'm like, 'No problema.' "
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) made that point this summer when he vetoed a bill authorizing various academic subjects to be tested in Spanish in the state's public schools. "As an immigrant," the Austrian-born governor said, "I know the importance of mastering English as quickly and as comprehensively as possible."
Hispanic groups generally agree with that, but they emphasize the value of a multilingual citizenry. "A fully bilingual young man like Zach Rubio should be considered an asset to the community," (damn right! my em) said Janet Murguia, national president of La Raza.
Rubio, a U.S. citizen, credits U.S. immigration law for his decision to fight his son's suspension.
"You can't just walk in and become a citizen," he said. "They make you take this government test. I studied for that test, and I learned that in America, they can't punish you unless you violate a written policy."
"So I went to the principal and said, 'My son, he's not suspended for fighting, right? He's not suspended for disrespecting anyone. He's suspended for speaking Spanish in the hall?' So I asked her to show me the written policy about that. But they didn't have" one.
Rubio then called the superintendent of the Turner Unified School District, which operates the school. The district immediately rescinded Zach's suspension, local media reported. The superintendent did not respond to several requests to comment for this article.
Said Rubio: "I'm mainly doing this for other Mexican families, where the legal status is kind of shaky and they are afraid to speak up. Punished for speaking Spanish? Somebody has to stand up and say: This is wrong."
Of course it's wrong. It's Kansas. I wonder if they'd have suspended an Anglo kid for speaking Spanish in the hall. It's not only stupid, it's racist.
Let 'em just try to throw me out of Safeway for trying to converse in Spanish with mis amigos
in the checkout line. Actually, the Mexicans would be the ones to get 'em to throw me out for butchering their language!
In truth, the vatos
don't particularly want you to try to speak Spanish to 'em. They want you to speak English with 'em. They know that while your command of Spanish may benefit you socially, it probably won't get you a better job whereas the better they get at speaking English, their chances improve for a better paying job, if only to translate for the rest of the crew. These guys all have families to support, so this is important to them.
As a mechanic who occasionally works on bikes belonging to guys who speak about as good English as I speak Spanish, I'm very grateful for their kids who are perfectly bilingual. They are a big help: they want to make sure Tio Jose
gets his puta moto
fixed and doesn't get screwed by the gringo
wrench because of a misunderstanding. I want to take care of those guys. They take you at your word, don't ask for a written estimate, pay cash, and don't need a receipt.
As a matter of fact, I have an auto mechanic friend whose parents waded into the U.S. about forty years ago. They got pretty rich in the chicken business and still don't speak English. My pal can switch from perfect Spanish to perfect English without even thinking about it. Anyway, he cleaned up around here in the auto repair biz because he was the only mechanic in town who spoke both languages.
One of the reasons we are starting to get behind in the world is that students everywhere are learning English, and our schools seem to think think there's no reason to teach Mandarin, Wu, Hindu, or other world languages. If folks can talk about how they're gonna screw you behind your back right in front of you, you're gonna get screwed without ever knowing how!
I think it benefits all of us to try to learn other languages and practice them wherever we can, even in the school hallway.
In Kansas and other backwards places, I guess they figure if English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for anybody.