Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Senator Pam Roach Responds

In a recent NPI post from February 3rd, 2006 I described my meeting with Washington State Senator Pam Roach regarding her position on SB6499, a voter re-registration act she co-sponsored that had many negative implications for Asian Americans. ("Washington's Roach Speaks Plain English.")

Senator Roach has responded, and I promised her a fair chance at a reply, to be posted where I posted my blog piece.

In the spirit of fairness, here is her response without further editorializing.

"February 28, 2006

Senator Pam Roach, (R-Auburn), is a member of the Senate International Trade and Economic Development Committee. She has traveled to South Korea; China; Thailand; Taiwan; Singapore; Bali, Indonesia; and East Timor. Sen. Roach has four children who are fluent in a second language. She is the founder of La Escuela de Esperanza (School of Hope) in Honduras, where she promotes foreign language development at an early age.

While Andrew felt he had a hard time getting in my office, let me point out in his blog he says he only called on February 1st for an appointment. In fact, on February 2nd, without an appointment, he barged into my office on the coattails of three other Asian Americans, who did. Unfortunately, he was not turned away at the door as he might have been. It is hardly polite to act as he did, camera in hand, inside my office snapping pictures without a request. Snap as you like on the street corner, but in someone’s office serious reporters ask.

My session aide, Shane, who took Mr. Tsao’s initial phone call, could only take his call and forward an appointment request to my scheduler. Shane is former U.S. Military staff and treats every phone call the same. Shane was stationed in South Korea in 1998 and 1999. His wife lived off base in Wonju. He lived among the Korean people and is a Christian who respects everyone. I suspect Mr. Tsao was angry before he even picked up the phone!

In the meeting I turned the conversation to Senate Bill 6815 (studying whether to require Spanish and Chinese language instruction in secondary school). To my friend of twenty years I turned and said, "Frank, if you had learned English as a child you would not have had an accent." Frank was laughing because he was enjoying the conversation and he knew what I was saying was true.

Mr. Tsao, on the other hand, continued to take pictures and was more interested in nailing me for something than he was in hearing my proposition: #1 American-born children should learn other languages from the elementary grades, #2 parents who were raised speaking a language other than English should be encouraged to teach that language to their own children and, #3 to compete in a global economy our country needs people who are fluent in multiple languages. I would think the story would be that innovative and positive message.

I had presented these ideas January 10th in my televised response to the Governor’s State of the State address. And, as I had mentioned in my office, I had spoken three days earlier, January 30th, and promoted early learning foreign languages (Mandarin & Spanish) at the International Education Leadership Summit at the Rainier Club in Seattle.
Four of my own children are fluent in languages other than English. In the spirit of wanting what is best for our country and in wanting profitable experiences of our next generation, I would hope Mr. Tsao would join me in an effort to increase language proficiency. We should care enough about ourselves and other nations to learn a second language from early grades."

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