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U.S.English Chairman Responds to Debate Over Language Restriction in Texas School

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwired) -- 08/08/14 -- U.S.English Chairman Mauro E. Mujica today released the following statement in response to a contentious debate over a principal in Texas who was fired for asking students to speak English on school grounds.

In December 2013, Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey was placed on paid administrative leave for reportedly announcing that the school's students were not allowed to speak Spanish on the school campus. Several months later, the Hempstead school board announced that it would not be renewing Lacey's contract, but due to the terms of the separation, the former principal was unable to comment on the allegations.

This week, Lacey spoke out, claiming that she did not ban the use of Spanish in the school. Rather, Lacey suggests she was following Texas state code, which states that it is the responsibility of public schools to assist all students in becoming proficient in English.

"This controversial debate in Texas is the latest demonstration of the clear need for a straightforward and unified language policy in the United States," Chairman Mujica said. "While students, and all residents of the United States, should be free to speak the language of their choosing, it is crucial that English proficiency is encouraged -- especially among school-aged children. When immersed in English, studies have shown that non-English speakers learn the language faster than those surrounded by speakers of their native language. Particularly in schools, students should be exposed to English to the greatest extent possible, to give them the best possible chance of social and academic success."

Mujica continued, "Individuals armed with English proficiency are more likely to have better, higher paying jobs as adults, are more likely to have health care and are less likely to be reliant on government assistance. Accordingly, schools across the nation should do their best to encourage English learning among students. A clear national language policy will help prevent instances like this one in Texas from occurring again, instead placing a focus on encouraging English proficiency. "

U.S.English, Inc. is the nation's oldest and largest non-partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States. Founded in 1983 by the late Sen. S.I. Hayakawa of California, U.S.English, Inc. (www.usenglish.org) now has more than 1.8 million members.

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