By Alyse Shorland, CNN
(CNN) - Republicans vying for the GOP presidential nomination are debating and disagreeing about the economy and foreign policy, but they backed each other on one issue this week: the English language.
At Monday's debate in Florida, Newt Gingrich said this week he supports English as an official language of the United States: “I think it is essential to have a central language that we expect people to learn and to be able to communicate with each other in,” he said.
Mitt Romney said everyone in school should be learning in English: “English is the language of this nation,” he said. “People need to learn English to be able to be successful, to get great jobs.”
Romney, in his 2010 book, “No Apologies: the Case for American Greatness,” highlighted his support for English-only immersion in Massachusetts public schools. As governor, he led the state to pass a law against bilingual education, mandating one year of English-only transitional language instruction for anyone learning the language before moving to mainstream classrooms. California and Arizona have similar laws.
But educators across the country are trying a different approach, one that English-only advocates aren't considering: Immersion training for non-English speakers - and English speakers. Immersion has several forms, but generally means students learn their core subjects in two languages – a primary language, usually English, and a secondary language.
“What we hear is no dual language, English only,” said Tara Fortune, immersion project coordinator at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition at the University of Minnesota. “But what’s really happening is beneath the surface these programs are really growing. It’s become sexy.
“Immersion is a program that is about bilingualism, bi -literacy and multi-literacy."
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Connecticut's governor Wednesday slammed a local mayor's remark that he would eat tacos to support Latinos as "repugnant" and "unacceptable."
Gov. Daniel Malloy criticized East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. after learning of the mayor's remarks following the arrests of three East Haven police officers and a sergeant for their alleged role in the mistreatment of Latinos.
In an interview with CNN affiliate WPIX, Maturo indicated that he saw no problem with not having any Latinos on the East Haven police force. When asked what he would do for the Latino community on Tuesday, Maturo said, "I might have tacos when I go home, I'm not quite sure yet."
Malloy said Maturo's remarks "represent either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable."
"He owes an apology to the community, and more importantly, he needs to show what he's going to do to repair the damage he's done. And he needs to do it today."
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.
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FBI arrests four Connecticut police charged with mistreatment of Latinos - Hartford Courant
Florida poll: Among Latino electorate, Romney leading Gingrich ahead of Tuesday's primary - Politico.com
Study: Bias against blacks filing bankruptcy - The New York Times
Young internet entrepreneurs use business insights to impact world problems - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Editor’s Note: Mike Valdés-Fauli is President of JeffreyGroup, the largest independent communications firm focusing on Latin audiences. He has been a media commentator on Hispanic issues for CNN en Español, AdWeek, PR Week, the Miami Herald. Mike was named one of PR Week magazine’s 40 Under 40. He lives in Miami with his wife and son.
Watch In America's documentary about the race to capture the Latino vote on CNN in October 2012.
By Mike Valdés-Fauli, Special to CNN
(CNN) - For months, Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio has sat atop pundits’ vice presidential lists, and the Republican primary here on January 31 once again places the Florida Hispanic population at the forefront of our political landscape. This demographic will come into even greater focus as it presents the first real test of Latino voters for candidates in a fierce battle to attract them in November.
Florida's many diverse demographics make it a microcosm of the U.S. melting pot, but politicians understand that Cuban-Americans, in particular, hold significant influence over the entire Latino community in this country, and directly impact the outcome of elections in Florida. This crucial swing state is home to the third-largest Latino population in the country – more than 4.2 million people. One-third of eligible Hispanic voters here are Cuban.
Since the first wave of arrivals in 1960, the Cuban immigrant population in the United States has become wildly successful and credited - or faulted, depending on your viewpoint - for swaying many presidential elections.
Editor's note: Watch In America's documentary about the race to capture the Latino vote on CNN in October 2012.
(CNN) - As the attention of the nation turns toward Florida ahead of its primary election, the Latino vote has emerged as an important factor.
For decades, Republican candidates could count on that vote to help them win elections in the Sunshine State, especially in the southern part of Florida where a strong Cuban-American community is a political force.
But a change has been brewing recently.
"Sixty percent of non-Cuban Hispanics are Democrats," said Florida International University Prof. Daniel Alvarez.
New data analyzed by the Pew Hispanic Center seems to confirm Alvarez's statement. Based on figures from the Florida Division of Elections, registered Latino Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans.