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Our Opinion: Continue to offer driver's test in foreign languages

Our Opinion: Continue to offer driver's test in foreign languages

February 22nd, 2012 in News

We still have reservations about proposed legislation to end Missouri's process of offering driver's license tests in foreign languages.

We opposed legislation offered last year that passed the House, but died in the Senate.

Flash forward to Monday, when a similar proposal again was approved by the House, this year on a 91-59 vote.

The measure would eliminate the state's practice of offering the written driver's test in 11 languages and computerized versions in seven of them.

A fiscal note estimates the cost savings at $52,000.

We refuse to characterize the cost savings as insignificant. All are significant and accumulate.

The important question is whether the savings justify the action.

Bill sponsor Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, said the measure is designed for people to "come together and assimilate into our culture."

Withholding the driving privilege, however, is an impediment rather than an invitation.

Spend time in and around our community - and countless others across Missouri - and you will hear a variety of languages spoken in workplaces, restaurants, shops, churches and elsewhere.

These men and women participate more readily in our community dynamic and contribute to our economy because they can drive.

Learning a language is a process.

Do we relegate foreign-speaking people to unemployment and isolation until they have completed the process of learning English?

Do we - as some lawmakers pointed out - increase the risk of unlicensed and uninsured drivers sharing our roadways?

Diversity is a great strength of our nation.

Let's not obstruct the path to participation and assimilation.