Should Mitt Romney Get Credit For English-Language Law?

Romney frames record on English immersion as as his own issue, but fails to mention voters approved of the issue on a ballot initiative before he took office. posted on

Recently Mitt Romney has been adding a new line to his standard stump speeches when touting his record as Governor. Bringing English immersion to Massachusetts public schools.

At a press conference on January 1st, Romney said he “fought for, and was successful, in having English immersion in our schools,” during his tenure as Governor.

Two days later on a January 3rd appearance on The Laura Ingram Show, Romney mentioning his record as Governor said “We had English immersion brought into our schools.”

On January 8th, in a interview in Salem with the Eagle Tribune, Romney, again touting his record as Governor said he “instituted English immersion in our schools.”

And recently at the Huckabee Presidential Forum 2 in South Carolina Romney again repeated the same line “I fought for and was able to successfully implement, English immersion in our schools.”

But the facts don’t necessarily stand up to Romney’s line. Although Romney campaigned for and supported English immersion in 2002, the issue was actually decided on a ballot initiative known as “Question 2,” the year Romney ran for Governor.

More than 61 percent of voters overwhelmingly approved of Question 2 in 2002, which required, with few exceptions, that all Massachusetts students be taught all subjects in English and placed in English classrooms.

Romney did, as he mentions, fight for English immersion. He campaigned in support of the ballot initiative and as Governor threatened to fight any attempts to weaken the law. But the new regulations were implemented by the Massachusetts Board of Education and were applauded by the newly sworn-in Romney administration.

Romney does sometimes tell the fuller story. A spokesman, Ryan Williams, pointed to an October 2011 article, where Romney mentioned his support for the ballot initiative, and said the reference is a common one.

But a search shows Romney was touting the issues has his own as early as 2007. In a video shot for the Des Moines Register Romney said “I fought to make sure that our kids are taught in English. We have English immersion now we used to have bilingual education.” Without mention of the ballot initiative.

Although Romney’s line about fighting for English immersion is truthful, he appears to be spinning the issues as his own.

Update Romney spokesman Ryan Williams points out that although the voter initiative was passed in 2002, the law did not take effect until the next school year. Which was after Romney had taken office.

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