School Lawsuit in Kansas

Parents of children at a Catholic school are suing: their children, whose native language is Spanish, have been forbidden by the school from speaking Spanish to one another during the school day. School says this is its right; that it does no harm. Catholic schools clearly haven’t learned. They did this in Louisiana to French-speaking kids. They did it to kids on Indian reservations. It did harm. It was a ripping of kids from their culture. It is wrong. It’s just another power play on the part of an oppressive institution that wants total control.

2 thoughts on “School Lawsuit in Kansas

  1. I have mixed feelings about this. With the exception of one student, my public elementary school in Texas was all Spanish-speaking, yet Spanish was prohibited on school grounds. Students breaking the “no Spanish” rule could face a paddling. I must admit that I would probably not know English as well as I do if the rule hadn’t been in place. Outside of school, we could speak Spanish as much as we wished, which we did. Therefore, it’s hard to argue that we were ripped from our culture. I can also see that, for schools in an ethnically-diverse city like Los Angeles, an “English only” practice in elementary schools could help discourage children from sequestering themselves in language-based cliques.

    On the other hand, as I look back, it’s the heavy-handedness of the rule that had its negative impact. In combination with other societal messages of the day, I think we Mexicans did feel as if we were somehow illegitimate in the larger scheme of things. The news article speaks of an instance in which a student was allegedly “kicked out” for refusing to sign an “English only” pledge, again, a draconian response that only serves, imo, to underscore the illegitimacy of the home language, and by extension, home culture. Is there no way for a school to implement an “English only” preference in positive ways?

  2. “It’s just another power play on the part of an oppressive institution that wants total control.”

    I agree with your post up to this point. Public schools used to do the same thing. (Ask an old Fredericksburger about what speaking German at school would have gotten you in 1942.) Also, I have a feeling that it wouldn’t take much searching to find a private school associated with another denomination that does the same thing…they may not get sued for it though, as the parents sending children there tend to be more self-selecting. Instead of looking for the big bad oppressive institution behind this, how about chalking it up to old-fashioned xenophobia? Especially in Kansas.

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