Touch the future | AspenTimes.com

Touch the future

On Nov. 5, voters in the state of Colorado are going to be asked to either support or oppose Amendment 31.

As an educator in the valley facing the many needs of students who are learning English, and as a parent of a student in a bilingual program, I believe it is extremely important to oppose this amendment so that our schools can meet the needs and choices of all students.

In Basalt, we have a wonderful group of students who come to us with limited English speaking skills. We are able to offer dual language bilingual, bilingual transitional and English as a Second Language programs. The goal of each of these programs is to teach students to read, write and speak English.

The bilingual programs have an additional goal of Spanish instruction for both Anglo and Latino students based on the choices of their parents. With a multitude of approaches, we have the opportunity to help meet the needs of our students.

One-size-fits all programs do not work in educating children, which is what is being mandated by Amendment 31. Students who are learning English as a second language need time. This amendment would give students nine months to learn English and be integrated into the regular classroom.

Right now we have 27 months to teach students English and get them to a proficient level in their learning. Learning English is the goal of every school in Colorado, but Amendment 31 takes away the precious time that is needed for students to learn in their second or third language.

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Basalt has had a bilingual program for the past eight years. This educational approach is a choice for our students and parents, and one that I have made as a parent of a student who is in this program. Our families understand the value of being bilingual and this amendment would only take away our choices for our children and the local control of our school and district.

My son is in the first grade in our dual language program and loves learning Spanish. He struggles to understand why adults all over Colorado will get to vote if he will get to continue in this program or not in the future.

Amendment 31 will negatively affect the lives of children in our public schools, including my son. If you want to “touch the future” in Colorado, vote no on 31.

Suzanne Wheeler-Del Piccolo

Basalt