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Exponent editorial for June 5, 1998

Board's Limited English Policy is step in right direction

The Harrison County Board of Education seems to have the right idea when it comes to educating students who may not have a command of the English language.

The Board recently became the first one in the state to adopt a county-wide policy to assist those students who do not speak English fluently. Known as the Limited English Proficiency policy, it is designed to ensure that everyone learns to speak English.

While our school system has always worked with those students who were learning English as a second language, enactment of the policy brings the county into compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The latter, as noted by Rick Belcastro of the special education department, is essentially a federal mandate that ensures those with limited English proficiency -- known as "LEP" -- an equal access to an education.

Currently, no Harrison County students fall into this "LEP" classification. But three French students, none of whom speak fluent English, are scheduled for classes this fall. And in the past, the school system has worked with two Spanish-speaking students and a Vietnamese student in learning the language.

The policy, as noted by school officials, does not promote a "bilingual" education. Rather, instructors work with students in their own native languages on the road to helping them achieve acceptable skills in English.

This isn't a complicated policy. And we can't think of a better way to give those students -- the ones for whom the English language may initially serve as an obstacle to learning -- an opportunity to receive a fair and equal education.

-- Kevin S. Courtney


Telegram editorial for June 5, 1998

Lawsuit by ACLU over fish symbol ridiculous

First it was removal of prayer in school. Then it was ordering the banning of live Nativity scenes from public places at Christmas time. Now the American Civil Liberties Union has gone to ridiculous lengths with trying to keep a Midwestern city from displaying its Christian fish symbol. Come on, now.

The Associated Press ran a story last Saturday stating that citizens of Republic, Missouri -- it's a town of approximately 8,000 people -- seem to like the little symbol of the fish on the seal that's imprinted on the city's stationery, as well as on the city flag and its maintenance vehicles.

The general consensus of attitude seems to be scorn toward the inevitable legal class between the ACLU and Republic. There seem to be virtually no complaints from the citizenry of that municipality, which traces its roots back nearly 150 years. If there are any who don't like the symbol, they seem to bear it no ill will.

We certainly can see no "threat" to the ACLU or its followers by the City of Republic keeping the symbol. However, as usual, the ACLU is creating much ado about nothing. But this time, it's going to cost the community about $100,000 in legal costs to keep the fish.

So unfortunately, due to the planned action of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, there may be residents of the city who, while they don't object to keeping the fish, they do mind the costs of a court fight to continue using it.

The ACLU complains that the fish -- it has been recognized for centuries as a symbol of Christianity -- violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

While this is a current issue in western Missouri, the implications affect all Americans, including West Virginians. The fish symbolizes such virtues as love of fellow human beings.

Thus we don't see the appearance of a fish having anything like the impression that the Dixie Flag might have on the African-American population.

So the ACLU's insistence on filing suit to remove the fish, at considerable cost to the City of Republic, is nothing short of ridiculous, in our view.

-- Robert F. Stealey