School district tries to fix bad Spanish translation

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. under way / ˈʌn dər weɪ / (adv.) – in progress

    The road widening project is already under way.

  2. scramble / ˈskræm bəl / (v.) – to move or act hurriedly, usually before something else happens

    We scrambled to find another venue for the wedding after the old one canceled a month before the event.

  3. come to light / kʌm tu laɪt / (idiom) – to be discovered or widely known

    The truth came to light when the witness came to say what she knows to the police.

  4. notification / ˌnoʊ tə fɪˈkeɪ ʃən / (n.) – an announcement or message that informs others about something

    The company posted a notification on its official website about the new price increase.

  5. referendum / ˌrɛf əˈrɛn dəm / (n.) – a procedure in which registered voters vote to pass or reject a change in the law which was proposed by lawmakers

    The U.K. decided on Brexit through a referendum.


Read the text below.

As voting was already under way for Florida’s August 23 election, officials in the county where about one in four voters are Hispanic scrambled to fix a Spanish translation error that can’t help efforts to raise more money for education.

The Broward school district — the nation’s sixth largest, serving 271,517 students — is asking voters to double the tax rate to help cover the costs of teacher raises and more school security staff and to bolster mental health programs. The proposal would increase a tax from one half a mill — which is about $50 per $100,000 in home value — to a full mill.

But the Spanish version of that question translated “one mill” into “one million” and said the funding would pay for an administrative person who oversees resources, not for school police officers. It also wrongly translated “essential instruction” into “essential expenditures.”

The issue came to light when a Spanish-speaking voter contacted the South Florida SunSentinel.

More than 64,000 citizens had already sent in their Vote-by-Mail ballots by the afternoon of August 17 for the Aug. 23 election, the SunSentinel reported. Early voting at polling places began on August 20 in Florida.

The school district sent a new translation to the Broward Supervisor of Elections. This language was posted at polling locations and early voting sites, and also appeared in Vote-by-Mail ballots, district spokeswoman Keyla Concepción told the newspaper.

“The Supervisor of Elections Office has also placed the information on its website. The District will share the notification through all its distribution channels to ensure the public is informed about the revision,” she said.

The “Secure the Next Generation Renewal” school district referendum comes as funding voters approved in 2018 for such initiatives is set to expire, the Miami Herald reported. If approved, this referendum would run from fiscal year 2023 to 2027.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Do you think that announcements and other documents should be translated for minority voters that speak another language, or should they be encouraged to learn the local language? Why? Discuss.
  • The issue came to light after a Spanish-speaking voter contacted the South Florida SunSentinel. If you discovered an error in a public document or announcement, would you also inform the authorities? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you think it’s a good idea to involve the citizens in the decision-making on which laws to pass or changes to adopt through referendums? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • If ever there are referendums for proposed laws or political issues, would you participate in them? For what matters would you like a referendum to be held in your country (ex. leaving or joining an international union, tax reforms)? Discuss.