Speaking Spanish at the post office

In Chinatown, some post office clerks speak Chinese. Why shouldn’t there be Spanish-speaking clerks where most of the population speaks Spanish?

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A cyclist rides along through Chicago’s predominately Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood.

A cyclist rides along through Chicago’s predominately Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Bureaucratic blind spots? Innate bias? Ineptitude? One or all of the above might explain the kerfuffle over the lack of at least one bilingual postal clerk at the U.S. post office in Pilsen, a neighborhood where multitudes speak Spanish.

There are limits to how many languages should be accommodated, but in Northwest Side post offices many of the clerks speak English, of course, but also Polish. In Chinatown, there are clerks who speak Chinese. Why should Spanish competency not be available where most of the population speaks Spanish?

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Cook County voting instructions already are printed in four languages, soon to become 12, so the post office’s management has already slept through its wake-up call. 

The broader question is why don’t our public schools require students to learn a second language that is not spoken in their home? It would facilitate their success as adults. Throughout Europe, people commonly speak at least one other language in addition to their own; sometimes more. Why not us? 

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

Revise ERA amendment

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says the deadline for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment is long past and people should start over. I think the amendment should be revised a bit first to read: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex, sexual orientation, gender identification or type of sexuality.” 

Let’s get started now.

Bob Barth, Edgewater

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