Title

Breaking the Code: Colorado's Defeat of the Anti-Bilingual Education Initiative (Amendment 31)

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

On November 5, 2002, Colorado voters gave Ron Unz and his anti-bilingual, English-immersion amendment (Amendment 31) its first defeat. On the same night, Question 2, a sister initiative in Massachusetts, passed by a wide margin. What happened in Colorado that enabled advocates for bilingual education and parent choice to prevail when those in other states could not? This study analyzes events from 2000 to 2002, during which time several English-only initiatives were proposed and defeated. Not only did Colorado voters defeat Amendment 31 in November 2002, but advocates in Colorado have defeated anti-bilingual initiatives no fewer than four times over the past 2 years. This article chronicles events, activities, and organizational developments that have contributed to the defeat of these anti-bilingual, anti-family, and anti-education proposals. Methods used in this analysis include informal interviews, document analysis, and expert interpretation. The study offers 10 findings in the form of “lessons learned” over the past 2 years that collectively contributed to the defeat of Amendment 31. The defeat of Amendment 31 in Colorado provides hope and evidence that Ron Unz, and others of his ilk, can be defeated. At the same time, the study ends on a cautionary note, for although a battle has been won, the war to protect the rights of children and their families rages on.