Voters side with two mayors, new Council to defeat English Only
An English Only proposal was defeated Thursday night in Nashville after over 40,000 voters stood up in opposition to the measure. The rejection aligns Nashville’s voters with the current Metro Council, current Mayor Karl Dean, and Dean’s predecessor Bill Purcell.
Former Mayor Bill Purcell vetoed a similar measure when it came across his desk in 2007; current Mayor Karl Dean has vigorously opposed this year’s version; and the current Metro Council passed a resolution by a 3-1 margin urging Nashville voters not to sign the petition putting the measure on the ballot in the first place.
English Only was defeated tonight by a margin of 57-43%. Amendment #2 failed by an even larger margin. An unprecedented, citywide coalition formed in opposition to both measures.
Filed under About Nashville for All of Us, Action, Amendment #2, Faith, Freedom, Hospitality, Litigation, Safety, Stewardship, Terminology, Testimonials, The importance of learning English, Who brought this to Nashville?
Image by Alexandre Duret-Lutz. Licensed via Creative Commons.
Even with approximately 70 posts to date, this blog has not reproduced all of the written opposition to English Only in Nashville, nor could it ever. Because today is the day of the special election and the last day to vote, however, the best we can do with the “waiting list” of those comments, letters, columns, blog posts, other statements of support, and news that have so far gone unpublished here is to link to as much of them as we can in list form below.
Our apologies to those whose public statements and endorsements have not been included here – and there are many of you. We know that everyone who has spoken out against the charter amendments in any context is a part of this effort.
Thank you! Continue reading
Filed under About Nashville for All of Us, Action, Faith, Freedom, Hospitality, Litigation, Safety, Stewardship, Terminology, Testimonials, The importance of learning English, Who brought this to Nashville?
Director Francie Hunt
“From my personal experience, immigrants are more than willing to learn more languages and are eager for assimilation. It’s a process and no law can speed that up.”
The Nashville chapter of Stand for Children has voted to oppose English Only, and Director Francie Hunt issued this statement to the Tennessean. Here are excerpts:
Our chapter felt strongly that it was harmful to children and to our community to pass a law that restricts communication. In a world rife with conflict, limiting our means to connect, collaborate and protect each other is a terrible example for our young people and with dangerous consequences.
At family gatherings, I long to understand my mother’s tongue just as my mother once longed for me to assimilate into American culture when she first arrived. Passing punitive legislation will not make Nashville more “comfortable” with non-English speakers and it won’t inspire immigrants to learn English any more than the motivation it took to get here in the first place. From my personal experience, immigrants are more than willing to learn more languages and are eager for assimilation. It’s a process and no law can speed that up.
“The threat of another language eventually taking control is just silly.”
Sarah Moore disputes in this post that there is any threat to the English language that would be addressed by English Only. Here are excerpts:
Of course, English should be the language in which government and business is done in Nashville. And, guess what? It is! The threat of another language eventually taking control is just silly. Every immigrant who comes to our great city desiring a better life wants to learn English.
I want my children to grow up in a thriving metropolitan area that embraces all cultures and peoples. I also want them to read their ballots in English the first time they go to vote and be able to speak up in Metro Council meetings that are conducted in English. If English Only fails, as it should, my children will be fine on all counts.
Photo Credit: Gwendolen Cates
Irish-born Nashville singer Maura O’Connell will canvass door-to-door against English Only, reports Beverly Keel of the Tennessean.
O’Connell told Keel:
I don’t know that there was such a difficult time given to those people years ago as it is now. The younger generation will always learn English and assimilate.
Read the Tennesseean story here.
O’Connell’s singing career spans a dozen albums and includes appearances with artists such as Dolly Parton, Van Morrison, and Rosanne Cash.
O’Connell was also cast by Martin Scorsese in his 19th century epic The Gangs of New York. She played the role of an immigrant street singer.
My name is Helia, and I work for the Tennessee Foreign Language Instititute (TFLI). I started teaching languages in 1992 – first teaching my native language German at Berlitz and later teaching as a private tutor, which was more fun and more profitable.
I started working for the TFLI in 1997 and I have taught German (and later ESL) ever since. It was not until I took the TESL course in 2001, however, that I wholeheartedly started to enjoy teaching. The TESL training replaced my ‘pick-and-choose’ approaches with a solid foundation to foster learning success. I have since developed several Professional Development Courses for ESL and foreign language teachers based on the principles of TESL.
As a long time ESL instructor, teacher trainer, and court interpreter, I have met and continue to meet countless amazing people who do their best to learn English while working several low-paying jobs and facing tremendous odds. Continue reading
In this post opposing English Only, local radio host Mary Mancini of Liberadio cites statistics showing English usage among Latinos:
Research indicates that 98% of Latinos think it is “essential” that their children learn English. In fact, 80% of foreign-born children from Mexico learn English “well” or “very well,” and 92 percent of second-generation Latinos are fully fluent in English. By the third generation, only 28% of Latinos are still proficient in Spanish. (Migration Policy Institute).
The full post is here.
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) and the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (TAPIT) sent a letter to Mayor Karl Dean in which they strongly oppose English Only. Here are excerpts:
We strongly oppose the Nashville charter amendment because it is a dangerous and misguided initiative. Proposals of this type can, and have created severe and confusing barriers, not only for limited-English proficient (LEP) individuals, but also for government officials, resulting in denial of equal access, equal protection, and basic human rights.
We in NAJIT and TAPIT work daily with speakers of other languages, and we know that most of them have a strong and sincere desire to communicate in English. They do not willfully avoid speaking English out of stubbornness or spite; they recognize the value of being able to converse with the broader society in its own language. If this initiative passed, Nashville will be the only major city in our country to have an English-only law. It is unfortunate that those pushing for this divisive ballot measure have not focused their energies on the creation of better facilities and opportunities for learning English.