California Voters Reject Bilingual Education (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: After thirty years of experimentation with bilingual education in California’s public schools, voters decided it did not work and voted overwhelmingly to end it in a ballot initiative.
Bilingualism as an Ideal
Beginning the early education of schoolchildren in their own languages became a goal of California’s bilingual education policy during the 1970’s, when educators hoped that by giving children a strong educational start in their own languages, they would be better prepared to succeed after shifting over to English-language education. However, as time passed, that goal seemed impossible to achieve. California’s schoolchildren speak an estimated 140 different languages in their homes. To teach each group of them in their own languages before teaching them in English was beyond the resources of California’s massive education system.
In June, 1998 the issue of bilingualism was placed before the voters of California in a referendum. Their response was strong: “No Mas”—no more bilingual education in their public schools.
The liberal California of the 1960’s appeared to have reprogrammed itself in latter years with regards to social issues. In 1994, for example, Californians voted against providing government benefits to undocumented immigrants. Next, they voted against affirmative action. Finally, in November, 1997, voter groups filed petitions for a movement...
(The entire section is 1061 words.)
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