THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND JAMES WARREN
TAPED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2000
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 2-3, 2000
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Voucher venture.
(Playing recording of Sam Cooke song, "Wonderful World": Don't know much about history; don't know much biology. Don't know much about a science book; don't know much about the French I took.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: California's public school students, who don't know much about history, biology, science or French, may have a solution come November: private schools. That's if Proposition 38 passes. Prop 38, also known as School Vouchers 2000, gives California parents of all students, rich and poor, vouchers to attend private school, $4,000 worth of vouchers per year. The vouchers are taxpayer-funded and are designed to get students out of California's, quote-unquote, "inadequate" public schools.
"If you're a parent and you have no choice, you just throw your child through a metal detector and pray." So says Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper. The primary sponsor of Prop 38, Draper is spending up to $20 million of his own cash to make Prop 38 a reality. What's Draper's rationale? Private schools foster competition, and competition means betterment. When public schools have to fight for students, the schools will improve. Indeed, they must improve, Draper believes.
Well, Draper and his allies have a fight on their hands, an expensive and contentious fight. Geared up against Prop 38 are, among others, the California Teachers' Association, Governor Gray Davis and the California PTA. "By siphoning off scarce resources, this voucher initiative will do nothing to improve our neighborhood public schools. It creates a new system of unregulated, taxpayer-funded voucher schools that are not required to meet many of the states' new educational standards." So says the California PTA's president.
Question: How much opposition does California's school choice initiative face? Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: Well, they face great opposition from the teachers' union. Back in 1993, the California Teachers Association assessed its people and spent something like $18 million, crushed another voucher initiative that was on the ballot there that had little financial support.
But some things have changed, and not just the fact that Tim Draper, whom I've interviewed, is able to put up $20 million or more in behalf of this. I mean, this is part of a movement around the country, where we've seen vouchers in Cleveland and Milwaukee; we have seen charter schools in many states, Arizona most particularly; we have seen home schooling rise. People have come to the conclusion, many people, that just putting more money into the public school monopoly is not producing great results.
Now, having said all that -- and there's support among black and Hispanic parents for this, polls are showing. Having said all that, though, the teachers' unions are going to fight this like crazy. The Democratic Party will fight it. The Republican Party will not be in favor of it. And so it faces very tough opposition.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the new superintendent of schools may well fight it. Do you know who he is, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: No, I don't.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN Roy Romer.
MS. CLIFT: Oh, that's right. No, he's of the Los Angeles --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The former head of the Democratic National Committee.
MS. CLIFT: No, he's just head of the Los Angeles Unified District, he's not statewide.
MR. BARONE: Los Angeles. Yeah. Los Angeles.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
MS. CLIFT: But, you know, Michael makes the voucher movement in California sound so benign. I mean, there's a little reality that's going to intrude here. Handing out $4,000 to everybody in the state who wants to send their kid to a private school gives the money to a lot of people who have been affording private schools for years. It will bankrupt the state.
Secondly, you've got former Governor Pete Wilson, Governor Gray Davis, who are making the improvements in the public schools that are going to make the difference. Smaller class sizes. They deserve credit. Those reforms are going to pay off. This measure is going to go down because reality is going to intrude.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think it's a closer balance than either Michael or Eleanor are talking about. The last time we had a vote in California on this issue, the vouchers lost in the better -- sort of white suburban neighborhoods where the schools were still pretty good. And I think the measure of support for vouchers depends on the quality the parents think they're getting in the public schools. That's why you have strong support, surprisingly, from some in the Hispanic community, growing support in the black community.
And so the question is, do the public schools in the suburbs deteriorate sufficiently to raise the white suburban vote? And we don't know that yet. But I think it's going to end up being a pretty close vote.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about that? Do you think Hispanic women, for example, might save this voucher initiative and make it pass, meaning that they like parochial schools for their kids?
MR. WARREN: Well, it's possible. But speaking about the money, what's interesting is the fact that the way this is structured, and given the fact that California now spends something like 8,000 bucks per student in public schools, if you take the voucher and take your kid to private school, for instance, $4,000 will still go to that public school, which means you could have fewer kids in the public schools but more money to teach them with.
But nevertheless, I think this is almost an inevitable trend, particularly given the success of the charter schools around the country. And even though you only have now five communities, including Milwaukee, who have this, ultimately this is going to be tested by the United States Supreme Court, which has never taken a tuition voucher case. But you could argue, given a case that they decided on in July, which we've disputed before, that there are six votes on the Supreme Court, I think, for tuition vouchers.
MS. CLIFT: Well, it depends how you frame the issue. If you frame the issue that this is a handout to people to take their kids to private school, a lot of people who don't need the money and who are already in private school, that is not a very sound argument. I think it's fine if you have privately funded vouchers in mind, but public money should not be used.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is not a sound argument, but that's the only way this is going to pass, because if you attack the public schools as being ill-performing, then surely it will go down. You cannot do it that way. You've got to say we've got to have the opportunity for those parents who do not wish their children -- et cetera, et cetera.
MR. BLANKLEY: That's right. But let me just make a point about Eleanor just said about rich parents sending their kids to private school. An awful lot of parents are not rich, and are struggling desperately to be ale to afford to get their kids into private school. And --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MR. BLANKLEY: And they're people --
MS. CLIFT: But the rich people get the money too under this voucher proposal.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, but very few rich people --
MS. CLIFT: A lot of rich people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Will the California school choice initiative triumph in November? Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: I'd have to say the chances are 60-40 against, but it may be a real close call.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: It's going to fail.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think this time it's going to squeak by.
MR. WARREN: The teachers' union is still too potent. It will go down.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very uphill, but it will make it.
When we come back: Jack Kevorkian wanted to provoke a national debate over physician-assisted suicide. Has Jack gotten his wish? Is the issue here to stay?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Death with dignity.
DR. JACK KEVORKIAN: (From videotape.) Look at me. Honestly, now. Honestly. Do you see a criminal?
DR. JACK KEVORKIAN: (From videotape.) It doesn't matter what you call it. It's not a crime. That's the point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Dr. Death" may be behind bars, but his cause is on the ballot. In Maine, the Death With Dignity Act would allow terminally ill adults of sound mind to receive a doctor's help to die. The Maine doctor would prescribe a lethal dose of medicine, and the patient would voluntarily take it. Maine would become the second state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Oregon passed a similar statute six years ago, but only after two years of heated debate. In Michigan, an assisted-suicide initiative was defeated in 1998. A year later, in 1999, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was convicted on murder charges for helping a terminally ill man take his life. In Maine, this year, opponents of the Death With Dignity Act fear that it could lead to a wide acceptance of euthanasia and a wave of private killings. The the elderly, disabled, uninsured and mentally impaired would be at risk, critics fear.
The American Medical Association is opposed to physician-assisted suicide. But supporters of the initiative got a boost in June from Dr. Marcia Angell, editor of the influential New England Journal of Medicine. "Sometimes, relieving is more important than extending life. After all, it's not a question of life versus death, it's a question of a lingering death or a fast and humane one."
Question: What trend makes physician-assisted suicide publicly compelling? I ask you, Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think there are a couple of trends. One is the aging of the boomers, of course, as they begin to contemplate their own mortality. The other trend, I think, is the genome process, where we begin to contemplate at a deeper level a lot of different ethical questions about health. So I think that what was once an inadmissible question, "Is suicide ever okay?" is becoming admissible as boomers start thinking about a better way to die.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mention the boomers. Now, the boomers' mantra has been "quality of life." Do you think now it's going to be "quality of death," since they're reaching the mortality limits?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I think it's inevitable the boomers will bring our mentality to death as we have for life.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they have personal trainers for their life. Do you think they'll have personal trainers for their death? What do you think, James?
MR. WARREN: That's very facile. Yeah, a huge percentage of Americans have personal trainers.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Personal trainers.
MR. WARREN: And masseurs, as you do, I assume.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, for example, for example, funeral directors now will pass out your DNA to any loved one that you might want to give it to.
MR. WARREN: Well, it's interesting. I mean, one of the facts here is that in Maine, I think as in Oregon, there's this key 15-day waiting period. The patient requests the prescription, and then there are two doctors have to spend, I think 15 days to decide, A, whether this person only has six months to live, and whether or not he should get the prescription, and whether he is, obviously, mentally competent.
But interesting, you know, in Oregon -- we talk about pain. The Oregon experience suggests that the main reason that patients seek this is not for relief of pain, it's because of what they perceive to be a loss of independence.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor? I have a question for you. Do you think that physician-assisted suicide opens the door to legalized euthanasia?
MS. CLIFT: I don't. I think there are safeguards here. I don't think people are going to be lining up. But I don't think the medical industry should be allowed to force people to spend their final days, weeks, months in agony while they're handing over their last of the family fortune to the medical industry. And I think there should be some choice involved here. And you may sneer and call it personal trainers, but if we have more grief counselors, more people talking about the end of life, that's good. We should take death out of the closet.
MR. BARONE: John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that -- euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are conceptually quite different.
MR. BARONE: Well, I think the dangers --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: First of all, you need informed consent on the part of the physician-assisted suicide person.
MR. BARONE: But you also have to deal with people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And there's no consent involved in euthanasia at all.
MR. BARONE: Well, you have to deal -- how do you deal with people who are incompetent? And who decides who's incompetent? I mean, in the Netherlands, where they've gone a great distance down this slippery -- I think -- slippery slope from these laws to euthanasia, where they basically -- you know, the relatives that nobody wants around any more are gotten out of the way. I think that there is a danger of that happening. You can have Kevorkian-like doctors who believe in assisting suicides, which in some of Kevorkian's cases were people who had no physical ailment. There can be a --
MS. CLIFT: We're not talking about Dr. Kevorkian. We're talking here about --
MR. BARONE: Well, I think we can't guarantee that there are not Dr. Kevorkians.
MS. CLIFT: -- doctors who decide every day who lives and how they're going to die. And this just puts some of the decision in a competent person.
MR. BARONE: Well, it's a difficult issue, but there are people like that out there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you know, you know that relatives would -- a lot of them would quickly pull the plug on a comatose person in order to minimize costs and to maximize inheritance. You know that, don't you?
MS. CLIFT: No, John. It's very difficult today --
MR. BLANKLEY: That's appalling.
MS. CLIFT: -- if somebody goes into the hospital. There are forms you have to fill out.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait.
MS. CLIFT: And if those forms are not filled out, family members can't, quote, "pull the plug."
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you should have full documentation of the patient's true wishes.
MS. CLIFT: Wishes. That's correct.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. Yes?
MR. BLANKLEY: You know, quite the contrary from what you said, I think that families agonize horribly over that kind of a decision. And if one set up a more traditional -- a mechanism for thinking it through, they could get to the decision easier than they do now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you read Tolstoy or any of the --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- any of the Grace --
MR. BLANKLEY: Not that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you ever heard of the greedy relatives and how they --
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I've heard of that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and how they will concoct and calculate?
MR. BLANKLEY: And in my life experience, I have not seen people behave that way.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Will the Maine measure pass? Michael Barone?
MR. BARONE: I think Maine is a lot like Oregon and it will pass.
MS. CLIFT: I think it will pass.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, I think so.
MR. WARREN: As a personal-trainerless baby boomer who has read Tolstoy, it will go down in flames.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, it will pass. That's four to one against you, James.
Issue three: Bad boys, watcha gonna do?
(Playing recording of theme song from television show, "Cops": Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do? Watcha gonna do when they come for you? Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do? Watcha gonna do when they come for you?)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are drug offenders in California gonna do? They're not gonna go to jail. Instead, they're gonna get treatment for substance abuse. That's if California's Proposition 36 passes on November 7th.
The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, Prop 36, puts offenders on parole and sends them for drug treatment. To go this prison-avoidance route, however, there are conditions. One: "Simple possession only" is the charge. Not drug dealing, not drug manufacturing. Two: Nonviolent offenders only bypass prison, so that offenders with any prior convictions for a serious or violent felony are not eligible unless they have been put out of prison custody and crime free for five years. Three: "Three strikes and you're out" is the threshold, so that offenders who cross it -- that is, test positive for drugs a third time or get convicted for possession a third time -- go to jail.
Question: What is the track record on drug treatment programs, or do you know, Eleanor Clift?
MS. CLIFT: Well, compared to what? I mean, they don't always succeed, but I think treating drug addiction as a health problem would save a lot of money in new prison construction. And what about the recidivism of people who are locked up because they have a drug violation?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the indirect cost of the crimes that are committed by drug addicts who even have been in rehabilitation and get out, in the order of thousands of crimes committed to support their habit? What about those?
MS. CLIFT: I believe this particular measure gives you two shots at it --
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me -- two shots at it; and if you're still committing crimes, then you're going to be behind bars. And the sanction of knowing that you might have to go to jail is going to mean something.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just to clarify, there are three conditions. One, simple possession; two, first or second offenses; and three, a nonviolent crime. Not that the third -- three strikes and you're out.
MR. BLANKLEY: Eleanor's got it wrong. The truth is, about a little bit more than one in ten people succeed at treatment. But one of the conditions of success is having the stick of a jail sentence hanging over their head. And they found the people with that pressure on them are more likely to be successful in the treatment than those who just walk in in a pure health model. So therefore, taking away the potential of using a stick, I think, reduces the chance of good treatment.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How about putting them in jail and trying to rehab them in jail?
MR. BARONE: John. John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, not necessarily in jail, but having them with a jail sentence hanging over them and then putting them in the treatment center works better than having no jail sentence hanging over them.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, how does that work, say, on first offense?
MR. BARONE: John --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you put them in a --
MR. BLANKLEY: I'll tell you exactly how. You find them guilty, you sentence them to x time in prison, or jail, suspend it conditional on going to a health center.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michael?
MS. CLIFT: Nobody wants to spend money for that.
MR. BLANKLEY: There's money.
MR. BARONE: John, but there's a lot of these drug courts that have been tried around the country are, in effect, using this, where you keep the person out of jail but you have the sanction of putting them back if they test positive for drugs. That seems to have some potential. There's a powerful argument that nonviolent drug offenders don't belong in jail. John Diulio (ph), very tough on crime, makes that argument powerfully. But the fact is that if rehab is just sort of sanctionless, then it doesn't work as often as we'd like it to.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The unfortunate thing is that rehab doesn't work very much. It's about 13 percent success rate. So if you have, say, 100 drug addicts on rehab, then a little over one out of 10, or 10 out of 100, are the ones that survive -- I mean, survive -- that is, are successful.
MR. WARREN: The problem is similar with alcohol abuse treatment programs, too -- a rather dismal record. But at the same time, you've got an estimated 400,000 nonviolent drug offenders in American prisons. That's way too many.
And just a point of information: There still are penalties under this proposal for those who fail or flout drug treatment. And conceivably, in some cases, it could be for first- or second-time abuses.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question, very fast: On November 7th, Proposition 36 goes before the California voters -- namely, send drug offenders who are nonviolent, who simply possess the drug, and who are first- and second-time offenders, not third- or fourth- or beyond, get treatment, not jail. Will it be approved?
MR. BARONE: Tough-on-crime California votes no.
MS. CLIFT: Progressive California lets it squeak through. (Chuckles.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Progressive California votes no.
MR. WARREN: Progressive California votes no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Progressive California votes no. (Laughter.) And progressive Barone gives us the handle on this issue.
Issue four: Power to the people.
Tired of gridlock, partisan politics, tabled motions, endless filibusters? A referendum may be just what you need.
Ballot initiatives or referenda are the rage in 24 states in the union, on issues from drug legalization to lower taxes, to school vouchers, to animal rights. These referenda put controversial issues to the popular vote. They skip state legislatures. It's called "direct democracy."
Here's the argument in favor in referenda or initiatives, as they're called:
One, break gridlock by circumventing legislatures that are mired down by partisan bickering.
Two, breeds populism by putting the issue to a straight up-or-down vote, with no reliance on a representative, who may not vote the way you would want.
Three, purifies lawmaking through initiatives or referenda, passed without amendments, stipulations, riders, legislative undercutting, or other kinds of interference from special interests.
The argument against referenda and initiatives:
One, money talks, and actually hijacks the political process, with deep-pocketed sponsors or special-interest groups paying to get the issues on the ballot and then guaranteeing passage with lavish media campaigns.
Two, minority wronged when a referendum simply reflects the will of the majority, as when, in a legislature, minority parties and interests still hold substantial power.
Three, legislature ignored when important bills can be passed without the governor or state assembly ever even voting, thus undermining the representative democracy called for by the Founding Fathers.
Question: Have special interests and rich individuals hijacked the initiative process, James Warren?
MR. WARREN: There is no doubt that at times some of the key values of representative government seem to be undermined by some of these, including the notions of compromise. And there's no doubt that there sometimes have been some vivid examples in which citizens seem to be pawns in the very expensive fight of special-interest groups.
Having said that, let's not forget that one can overstate this argument. There are only 24 states which allow this, and even of those 24, there are just five, including -- no surprise -- California, which account for more than 50 percent of these initiatives.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If you compare this to the legislative process, how about the hijacking of the legislative process -- e.g., Sacramento, $3 billion in lobbying efforts in that process, versus 92 million in the casino initiative in California?
MR. BARONE: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you can't judge this in abstracto; you've got to judge this in relation to the other process.
MR. BARONE: Well, John, what I'd look at in Sacramento there, on that thing, is that is -- I have great respect for David Broder, who's written arguments that we shouldn't bypass legislatures, disagree with him somewhat on this. The fact is that sometimes Sacramento totally overlooks people.
Example: bilingual education. The interest -- it's the interest of Spanish-speaking kids to learn English, which they must have to advance in this country. It has been prevented. The Democrats were prisoners of the left-wing Latinos and the teachers' unions on this --
MS. CLIFT: We're not talking about -- (inaudible) -- here. (Chuckles.)
MR. BARONE: -- and the Republicans were uninterested.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll give you five seconds.
MS. CLIFT: We're talking about referenda in general. If the state legislatures are also hijacked by big money and special interests, fair is fair. If people want to play separately, fine. The legislatures can take care of themselves.
MR. BLANKLEY: This is --
MS. CLIFT: They're putting up all sorts of obstacles to make it harder.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you like initiatives and referenda?
MS. CLIFT: I've --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're okay on them?
MS. CLIFT: I think they're okay.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you okay on them?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, I think they've evolved to the point where they're nicely balanced against -- the legislature has the first bite of the apple. The Supreme Courts have a chance to overrule. But they're there, and they add -- they're a useful escape valve when the legislatures don't function properly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is, there's less danger of corruption with the initiative/referenda process than there is in the lobbying process on the legislative process.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions, Michael?
MR. BARONE: Silvio Berlusconi's conservative coalition wins the next Italian elections.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: La Forza Italia?
MR. BARONE: Forza Italia, si.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: School voucher initiative on the Michigan ballot, which is underwritten and funded by an Amway executive, will fail.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: As Congress comes back, the traditional fight between the president and Congress is -- for the first time in the Clinton presidency, the Republican Congress is well positioned to have a pretty good struggle with the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why do you say that?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think the tax issue is going to evolve nicely for the Republicans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because of the groundswell now forming in the nation, correct?
MR. BLANKLEY: Support for tax cuts, yes,
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?
MR. WARREN: My personal, private, exclusive focus-group testing in Tuscany suggests that Michael is completely wrong; the conservatives will go down in Italy. (Soft laughter.)
MR. BARONE: Tuscany?~!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Elections in -- you can battle that out on your own -- elections in Yugoslavia will be held in three weeks. Slobodan Milosevic will be reelected, but he will be faulted for corrupting the process.
Happy Labor Day! Bye-bye!
®FC¯END OF REGULAR SEGMENT
PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue five: Habla espanol?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX): (From videotape.) A construir puentes, no parare.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (D): (From videotape.) Bievenidos la Ronda Latina aqui. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The presidential candidates are polishing up their Spanish to court the Hispanic vote.
But in Arizona, some voters want to say adios to Spanish. A referendum to abolish bilingual education from the state's schools will be on the Arizona ballot November 7th. Supporters of the measure hope to improve student performance.
When California scrapped bilingual education two years ago, its students' standardized test scores went up.
Interestingly, many who support the English-only measure are themselves Hispanic. They say Arizona's 30-year-old bilingual system is a sham, it leaves immigrant children with poor English skills and dooms them to educational and economic failure.
But opponents view the "ban bilingualism" initiative as grossly unfair. They say bilingual education maintains students' native language skills and culture, and keeps them on an even footing with English-speaking students, because native tongues, as well as English, can become instruments of learning. Others see the anti-bilingual measure as anti-immigrant.
What's the principal motivation behind this initiative effort to ban bilingual education, Eleanor Clift?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think, in the early '90s when the Republican Party was on its war against immigrants, the anti-bilingual measures did convey a hostility towards the immigrant community. But I think if you look at this as an education theory, kids do better if they are immersed in English; but these measures rip away all help, and I think you want to be able to also give them some bilingual help. And neither of the presidential candidates, Bush or Gore, favor ending bilingual education totally.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this measure is anti-immigrant, or is it pro-assimilation?
MR. BARONE: I think it's pro-immigrant, because it helps give Spanish-speaking immigrants a chance that people speaking other languages get, because they don't get the bilingual education.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: To master the language?
MR. BARONE: To master the language, to be able to move up in society and not just work in garment sweatshops as their parents do, and have other opportunities. I think that -- I mean, I've covered this thing. I've been out in California; I covered Proposition 227, which passed in June 1998 --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Which provided what?
MR. BARONE: Which provided -- it's a twin of this Arizona measure, sponsored by entrepreneur Ron Unz, who is a conservative Republican, but with support from Alice Callaghan, who is a liberal-left ex-nun who heads a think tank --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What point will you be moving on to?
MR. BARONE: My point is that I have been in the classrooms. It's working. The test scores are up. Kids are learning in English. You know, when you see somebody, a kid who -- you see him in June -- who's speaking, reading fluently in English, who knew no English at the beginning of the school year -- this can work. The other system held kids back and was evil.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: James?
MR. WARREN: But Michael, bilingual education is not a single form of instruction. To make a flat declaration that it works or doesn't work verges on the meaningless.
MR. BARONE: We've had 30 years of experience of it not working.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, look. Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony? Let me hear from Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, quickly -- by the way, the Republican Party was not anti-immigrants. It was anti-illegal-immigrants. But politically --
MS. CLIFT: A lot of immigrants in this country took that personally. (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: -- politically that didn't play, so they backed off of that. But there's no question, on a policy basis, that bilingual education is damaging.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We all agree that this ban on bilingual education in Arizona will pass, correct?
MR. BARONE: Will pass.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MS. CLIFT: It will.