In a step with important implications for bilingual education, President George W. Bush in June announced the nomination of Gerald Reynolds as director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Reynolds was formerly president and legal counsel for the Center for New Black Leadership, a group opposed to affirmative action. The nomination immediately was criticized by a number of liberal advocacy groups, including People for the American Way and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The Office for Civil Rights has come under heavy criticism in recent years for its aggressive role in encouraging school districts to adopt bilingual education, rather than presenting an official neutral stand on the issue. A February 2001 study by the General Accounting Office found that nearly one in five school districts that had worked with OCR reported attempts to influence them towards bilingual education. In the office’s Region 11, headquartered in San Francisco and home to 41 percent of the nation’s English learners, 35 percent of school districts reported experiencing OCR bias towards bilingual education.