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Topic: CA and Heeding Prop. 227
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
CA and Heeding Prop. 227
Posted: Oct 1, 1998 2:55 PM
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From San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, July 17, 1998, p. A22


Time for Educators to Heed Prop. 227

Sidebar: Schools are familiar with English immersion and other bilingual
program alternatives.

A federal judge has spoken, and unless California school officials want to
spend the rest of their careers in court, they had better find a way to
implement Proposition 227 -- the overwhelmingly-approved June ballot
initiative intended to replace bilingual education with English immersion

U.S. District Judge Charles Legge refused on Wednesday to overturn the
measure, rejecting arguments that students with limited English skills
would be prevented from learning academic subjects and that the measure was
"racially motivated."

Other court challenges are likely, but in the meantime, the law takes
effect August 2. Schools have a responsibility to have a plan ready that
adheres to the statute and that still meets, as best it can, the needs of
individual students.

While The Chronicle opposed Proposition 227 because if its simplistic,
"one-size-fits-all" approach to a complex educational challenge and because
many bilingual education programs have succeeded academically and
linguistically, it is not easy to sympathize with pro-bilingual educators
who indicate they will defy the measure. Many of those same pedagogues
ignored growing public dissatisfaction with bilingual education, including
some parents' pleas to more quickly teach their children English.

If those educators had spent as much time mending bilingual education, as
they have spent trying to figure out how to get around Proposition 227, the
crusade to end bilingual might never have succeeded.

Only three of every 10 limited English-speaking students has ever even been
in a formal bilingual program. The rest have been taught mainly or
entirely in English, so schools are not unfamiliar with English immersion
and other ways to prepare students for instruction in mainstream math,
science, literature and other academic subjects.

And even if there are powerful arguments for creating a true bilingual next
generation -- as there are -- the clear message of the 61 percent support
for Proposition 227 was that California voters give top priority to
learning English.

Educators should take every advantage of Proposition 227 exceptions that
allow good bilingual programs to continue, such as going the charter school
route or encouraging parents to seek waivers. But reassessment of existing
methods and unequivocal parent backing will only make the programs stronger.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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