Wednesday, January 29, 1997 San Francisco Chronicle
GOP Senator Seeks to Punish State's Ebonics Schools
Bill would bar use of funds for teaching
Robert B. Gunnison, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
In reaction to the Oakland school board's controversial plan
to help black students learn standard English, a Republican
state senator yesterday introduced a bill that would
penalize schools that support ebonics instruction.
Senator Ray Haynes of Riverside also announced that he would
lead a campaign with support from a conservative Virginia
organization to battle ebonics nationally. ``Ebonics is not
a foreign or distinct language,'' he said. ``It should
neither be taught in the classroom, nor accommodated
Haynes' bill would forbid any California school district
from using state money ``for the purpose of Ebonics
instruction or support of Ebonics instruction.''
While the Oakland board has taken steps to dispel the widely
held misunderstanding that teachers would actually teach
ebonics, Haynes said the district ``says we want to
institutionalize bad speech patterns. It says the only way
that teachers can teach students appropriate English is by
using bad English.''
Haynes said he wrote the bill after he was approached by
black parents worried about the effects of a controversial
decision by the Oakland board to recognize the ``legitimacy
and richness'' of ebonics.
The lawmaker said he was introduced to the parents by
Richard Delgaudio, president of the Legal Affairs Council, a
Fairfax, Va., group that raised money for Iran- Contra
figure Oliver North and for one of the police officers
accused in the Los Angeles beating of Rodney King.
In a statement released at a press conference, Delgaudio
said that Haynes wrote his bill ``at the request of'' the
Legal Affairs Council and that the lawmaker will serve as a
national leader of ``Stop Ebonics/Save Our Children.''
Delgaudio said, ``Militant black extremists in Oakland and
elsewhere would encourage street- land talk inside our
classrooms and separate and unequal education for a slice of
the bilingual education pie.''
In an interview, Haynes said he was not aware of Delgaudio's
full background, but added, ``If he likes Ollie North, he's
got to be all right with me.''
``What the ebonics program is saying is we are going to
allow you to engage in bad speech patterns,'' Haynes said.
``It puts African American students at a disadvantage with
white students in the workplace.''
But Senator Barbara Lee, D- Oakland, said Haynes has failed
to recognize that many African American students speak a
different language, known as ebonics, or black English.
``This effort is to make sure that young people can compete
in an increasingly technological and global world,'' said
Lee. She said Haynes ``is misinformed and grossly misguided.
Haynes was joined at the press conference by Ezola Foster of
Los Angeles, a longtime backer of conservative causes.
She said she had worked with Delgaudio on several issues,
including Proposition 187, the anti- immigration initiative
passed by voters in 1994, and the legal defense for Laurence
Powell, a Los Angeles police officer convicted of violating
King's civil rights.