The House State Government Committee today debated making English the official language of Pennsylvania. You really just read that. That’s what passes for urgent matters at the state General Assembly. Former Speaker Benjamin Franklin would be proud. (Actually, he would. He once worried that German immigrants in Pennsylvania would “Germanize us.”)
Our press release questions the need and priority of this issue. You can check that here. There were several things said at the hearing that are also worth noting.
Representative Scott Perry is the primary sponsor of House Bill 888, and as is custom, he had the opportunity to give some comments at the start of the hearing. On the one hand, Rep. Perry said that “language is the tie that binds our society together” and he said, “If you want to become and/or be a part of our society, learn our language.”
Ok. Fine. Later Rep. Perry noted the cost of educating the average student is $8950 while the cost of educating an English language learner (ELL) is at least $13,246. Then came the whopper when he said:
Pennsylvania taxpayers simply cannot afford and should not continue to be required to pay the bill(.)
Rep. Perry wants people to learn English because it is “the tie that binds” and he complains about paying for ELL classes. Which teach English.
The other whopper that jolted me out of my seat came from Suzanne Bibby of ProEnglish. Ms. Bibby complained about the federal government’s “unfunded mandate” that requires non-English ballot access in voting districts with a minimum percentage of non-English speakers. She worried about the costs counties bear for providing these ballots.
The “unfunded mandate” she complained about is the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important laws ever enacted in U.S. history.
Clearly, the legislature has better things to do with its time than debate this nonsense.