No serious researcher would embrace “Option VI,” the latest Orwellian effort to segregate Latino students and water down standards. The “books and materials” were accurately described by the Los Angeles Times as having “more pictures and simple vocabulary.”Dumbed-down. Separate.Arnold, who has temporarily funded the Board of Education from funds he controls, will likely veto SB 1769. When I had lunch with him several weeks ago, we didn’t discuss it specifically, but he firmly opposed simpler books and separate materials. “We don’t want separate, we want together.”Even so, this will not be the last we’ve heard from Sacramento “progressives.”So what’s really going on? For starters, immigrant children are so quickly becoming literate in English compared with a decade ago that many California schools now refuse to identify them as fluent.Why? Because California rewards schools for having “English learners.” Schools who admit a student has become “proficient” lose that money. That money, in turn, feeds a politicized adult lobby inside the schools whose jobs and power rely on keeping students in the “English learner” category.One result: 170,000 children fluent in English are stuck in the “learner” category. And 522,000 immigrants, reclassified as proficient in English, scored higher on statewide tests than average California students. Their scores strongly suggest schools require “English learners” to learn the language better than average California students before they are classified proficient.A tortured analysis in Escutia’s bill claims that the “performance gap” between English-learners and other California students “has remained virtually constant in most subject(s)” since Proposition 227. How absurd. In truth, California’s “English-learner” population of about 1.6million swells weekly from illegal immigration. As fast as kids learn English, their numbers are replenished. That’s the so-called “gap.”Schwarzenegger will probably do the right thing. But as long as a fervently politicized mini-industry in our schools is rewarded, the progressives’ misbegotten war over English immersion, textbooks, curriculum and skills will persist.Jill Stewart is a print, radio and television commentator on California politics. Contact her via her Web site, www.jillstewart.net.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe Christmas Truce of 1914 proved that peace is possibleThe bill arises from voters’ 1998 decision to ban “bilingual” education, which kept immigrants stuck in Spanish and stunted in English. But “progressive” and Latino elected leaders unanimously insisted that, under Proposition 227, Latinos would buckle from the pressure of having to perform academically while learning English.Remember that? Didn’t happen.Under Wilson, an emboldened state Board of Education had already begun to reform the schools. Proposition 227 was a useful tool. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 1999, “In the past year alone, Wilson’s board reinstated phonics instruction, changed how math will be taught, installed a new state achievement test, established grade-by-grade academic standards and refused to consider school district requests to teach in languages other than English.”Davis’ Board of Education was just as gutsy, linking textbook content to the tougher standards — despite opposition. Tests scores are now steadily climbing. Our awful schools are doing something right.But last spring, the Legislature declared war on the Board of Education. “Progressive” legislators demanded that the board adopt a faddish idea, “Option VI,” to help “close the gap” between immigrant and nonimmigrant students. The board refused, so Democrats cut the board’s $1.5million annual funding. FOR now, the California Legislature’s unseemly war on the gutsy, no-nonsense state Board of Education is over, with our unpopular Legislature abandoning Sacramento for its long annual vacation back in the home districts.It would be nice if the public — left largely in the dark — could hurl probing questions at local “progressive” legislators as to why they are waging war on the state Board of Education, why they are trying to turn back the clock on Latino youths and segregate them again, and why they are fudging numbers to make it appear that Latinos are not improving when they’re improving faster than they have in decades.If you hate politicians, you will really despise them when you find out how low our Legislature went to serve the twisted purposes of adult special-interest groups at the expense of California’s poorest kids.The latest effort, Senate Bill 1769 by Democrats Martha Escutia, Judy Chu and Jackie Goldberg, is likely to be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, just as it would have been by Gray Davis before him, and Pete Wilson before him, and … well, you get the idea.