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The Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves about 700,000 students, is embroiled in a nasty debate about whether meetings of a district advisory board should be conducted in English or Spanish.

I don't have a child in the school district, but let me say this as clearly as I can for the activists wanting to conduct meetings in anything but English: Yo quiero Ingles, por favor.

For the rest of you: I want English, please.

One parent said it was racist to demand people who come to America speak English. I think not.

What's really odd about this debate out in L.A. for many of us is that it is not the usual clash between Anglo-nativists and newly arrived Hispanic immigrants. Instead this is a battle which pits African-Americans against newly arrived Hispanic immigrants. The African-Americans think they are getting ripped off if a key advisory council to the school district is conducting business — dividing up federal money in many cases — in a language they cannot understand.

Some African-American parents have kids in these schools who are underachieving and want to see federal money spent equitably on their children as well as Hispanic children, and they are the ones who are feeling abused if the debates over millions in federal money are conducted in the language of the newcomers.

Nothing against the immigrant parents who want their children properly served by the L.A. school district, but the African-American parents have a point most Americans support: This is an English-speaking country when it comes to official business, and English speakers should not be excluded from participation in school district business because they have not picked up Spanish fast enough.

Their position seems to be: Welcome to America. We speak English. We have classes for everybody to learn English, but that's as far as we'll go.

Seems fair to me.

That's My Word.

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