This morning, Fox & Friends found its latest target for anti-immigrant ire: A school district providing increased translation assistance for parents who aren't fluent in English.
The segment focused on a plan by the Cleveland school district to “start doing more to communicate with parents who speak little English as part of a settlement reached with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.” As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported:
The district agreed to translate more of its written materials for parents who have limited English ability and provide more translation help, according to the settlement. School officials also will keep track of which parents need help with English to make sure those services are available to them.
Co-host Gretchen Carlson quickly sought to create a divisive frame for the segment, questioning whether this is the “best way to use taxpayer money.” She asked: “Should it go to better resources for the students?”
Carlson then hosted Victor Ruiz, the director of a Hispanic community group in Cleveland, who defended the need for the translation assistance against Carlson, who was visibly adversarial in her line of questioning. After Carlson suggested that “taxpayer dollars” shouldn't be used for the program -- stressing that it's “the responsibility of people who want to move to this country to learn English as responsible parents” -- Ruiz noted that those learning resources aren't always immediately available for parents, adding that his organization has waiting lists for ESL programs.
Rejecting Ruiz's contention that “people are learning English” and that “children pick up the language a lot faster than adults,” Carlson stated: “I gotta tell you, I know about communities right here in New York where kids are born and raised here and they never learn how to speak English, because we've made it simple for them to just continue to discuss and converse in the language of their parents.”
After the segment, Carlson asked viewers: “Let us know what you think about that. Is that the right way to use taxpayer dollars?”
While Ruiz noted the difficulty parents can face in finding resources to learn English, the Plain Dealer highlighted the types of problems the language barrier has created for some students and parents. For example, one student was expelled because his mother could not get the help she needed in time to understand her son's expulsion hearing documents:
Megan Sprecher, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, had filed a civil rights complaint against the district in 2008 on behalf of several parents she said had significant language obstacles in dealing with the district.
One Spanish-speaking parent, Sprecher said, sought help understanding the expulsion hearing documents for her 10th-grade son. Though the mother was referred to a district employee for help, Sprecher said, he was out of town and did not respond before the boy was expelled from Lincoln-West High School for 80 days.
Sprecher, who is fluent in Spanish, said she has also represented parents of special education students whose limited English made understanding special education rules --confusing even for native English speakers -- all but impossible.
The district, she said, expected her to translate for the parents.
Fox & Friends -- whose hosts frequently use derogatory terms such as "illegals" and "anchor babies" -- has long been a home for anti-immigrant vitriol. It's not surprising that Carlson would suggest that this kind of assistance for immigrant families would be wasteful.