When Unz came along with his admittedly strict measure, activists and educrats said they agreed that bilingual education needed fixing; then they balked at any real solution.
Activists called 227 proponents "anti-immigrant." They charged that the campaign was out to hurt immigrant children. Some hinted, others came out and said, that the motive behind 227 was racist.
In the short run, the racist-baiting worked. A majority of Latino voters voted against 227.
But in the long run, the fear-and-smear campaign failed. Last month, voters in the heavily Latino Santa Ana Unified School District overwhelmingly recalled a school board member who had been a staunch advocate of bilingual education. Unz sees that recall as a Latino endorsement of his immersion mission.
In 1998, students heckled Unz. Activists ridiculed him. Educators scorned him. That's the thanks Unz got for spending his time and money for a measure that, it turns out, has eased the journey for hundreds of thousands of immigrant children toward the American dream.