A nearly 20-year-old requirement that California school children, including English-learners, be taught in English will be re- tooled under a measure approved by voters Tuesday that will restore authority for school districts to offer bilingual education.
Proposition 58 repeals provisions of Proposition 227, which was passed by voters in 1998 and requires all non-language classes in California schools to be taught in English. Proposition 58 will allow schools to offer bilingual programs in subjects such as math and history, with proponents saying it will help English-learners absorb the material more effectively.
Backers of the measure claimed the English-immersion system may help students learn English, but they lag behind in other classes. They said the proposition will ensure that all students can achieve English proficiency faster, while expanding opportunities for English-speaking students to learn a second language.
“Too many California students are being left behind and not given the opportunity to learn English with the most effective teaching methods possible,” proponents contended in a ballot argument. “This is because of an outdated nearly 20-year-old law, Proposition 227, which restricts the instructional methods school districts can use to teach English.”
Opponents, however, said the results of Proposition 227 have been “spectacular.”
“Children are learning English faster than when they were forced into `bilingual programs’ that dragged on for years,” critics argued. “Because they are learning English faster and at an earlier age, record numbers of immigrant students are gaining admission to our state colleges and universities.”
Opponents of the measure said it is being pushed primarily by teachers’ unions trying to preserve jobs of “language teachers” who lead bilingual classes.
“Proposition 58 is not about modernizing the way we teach English, it’s about forcing a failed method of English instruction on immigrant children against the wishes of their parents,” opponents argued.
Backers countered that the measure will give schools “the tools they need to improve outcomes for students.”
–City News Service
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