Nearly twenty years ago after contentious debate, California voters approved Proposition 227— a measure that required public school students to speak and learn exclusively in English and effectively eliminated bilingual education programs.
However, on November 8th California voters will have the opportunity to repeal English-only instruction and give parents and teachers the control to develop their own multilingual public school programs. Proposition 58 is the brainchild of Senator Ricardo Lara, a child of Mexican immigrants who says that he greatly valued his immersion in two languages and cultures during his childhood education.
Although STEM education professionals and our credentialed math tutors have been hearing from parents for years about how important they feel STEM instruction is for their students, the conversation around multilingual education has just begun to see resurgence.
Senator Lara and other supporters of Prop 58 argue that the limitations on bilingual and multilingual education are harmful to students in a global economy. Especially among the upper middle class, families have begun to advocate that the ability of knowing multiple languages will be an asset to students looking for an edge in their future search for employment opportunities.
On the other hand, opponents say there is nothing to fix with the current system. Proposition 227’s author, Ron Unz, rallied support for his measure with many frustrated Latino parents who felt that separating English learners into Spanish-only classes failed to keep them on track with their English-speaking peers. Prop 227 was designed to eliminate this problem by requiring all children to be taught in English, unless parents signed a waiver to place their children in bilingual education.
Despite the state’s 1.4 million English learners, today less than 5% of California public schools offer multilingual programs. However, since Prop 58 has been endorsed by over 20 school districts, 100 elected officials, and 55 community and education organizations, including the California School Boards Association, that number may very soon be changing.
Despite the support of many legislators and local leaders, voter support for Prop 58 has been largely conflicted due to a mix in research outcomes on whether the original Prop 227 law was effective. Standardized test scores improved among English language learns only a few months after the 1998 vote, but later studies show bilingual programs can also achieve positive results. Educators also say that these programs help students not only learn English, but also retain their native language. In fact, assistant professor at the University of Oregon Ilana Umansky found although it usually takes most students in multilingual programs a bit more time to achieve English proficiency, more students overall reached the goal.
Senator Lara says his bill to rescind English-only education is in response to more parents asking for waivers to enroll their children in language-immersion programs and the growing popularity of multilingual academies and programs.
For parents who are interested in enrolling their child in a bilingual education program, our credentialed Spanish tutors are specially trained to work one-on-one with your student. Our private tutoring service is proud to serve families in Orange County, Los Angeles, Alameda County, and San Diego.