California Voters Support Bi-lingual Ed, But Schools Not Prepared

*They voted to do away with bilingual education in 1998, now they want it back. VL

new american mediaBy Jeremy Adam Smith, New America Media (6.5 minute read)

SAN FRANCISCO — In 1998, California Proposition 227 tore the state apart. The English-only reform aimed to discourage schools from teaching immigrant students in their home languages. The measure passed by a wide margin.

Flash forward to 2016, and Donald Trump is campaigning on a promise to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. But California has changed. A recent Field Poll found that voters were all but certain to overturn Proposition 227 with a new measure that would expand multilingual education statewide.

State Proposition 58, called the “Multilingual Education Act,” intends to help immigrant kids to learn English while simultaneously improving their home languages. It would also encourage schools to teach American-born kids other languages, often through dual-language immersion programs that put them in the same classroom with immigrants.

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The catch? California may not be ready. For almost two decades, the state has actively discouraged language education at its schools. This means that even as demand for bilingualism is growing, the state now lacks teachers, standards, curricula and reading materials.


[Photo by Presidio of MontereyFlickr]

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