The near End of Bilingual: Prop 227 Was Supposed to Eliminate Bilingual Education from California's Schools. for the Most Part, It Succeeded-And Student Performance Is Climbing Slowly Upward

By Rossell, Christine H. | Education Next, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

The near End of Bilingual: Prop 227 Was Supposed to Eliminate Bilingual Education from California's Schools. for the Most Part, It Succeeded-And Student Performance Is Climbing Slowly Upward


Rossell, Christine H., Education Next


BILINGUAL EDUCATION'S 26-YEAR REIGN IN CALIFORNIA was supposed to end with the voters' passage of Proposition 227 in June 1998. The proposition declared:

   All children in California public schools shall be taught
   English by being taught in English. In particular, this shall
   require that all children be placed in English-language classrooms.
   Children who are English learners shall be educated
   through sheltered English immersion during a temporary
   transition period not normally intended to exceed one year.

Of course, there is often a disconnect between a law and its implementation, especially with an issue as controversial as bilingual education. State officials can subvert the law through interpretations that don't conform to its intent; school districts can change their policies without making genuine changes in curriculum; or teachers can ignore the mandates, closing their classroom doors and doing as they please.

What happened in the wake of Prop 227? The answer should be of interest in Massachusetts, which is currently implementing a similar proposition, and in other states contemplating ending bilingual education or otherwise considering how best to educate students whose native tongue is not English. My research reveals that resistance to the new law was, in many schools and districts, quite intense, indicating the depth of support for bilingual education among teachers and principals. Of course, such opposition was to be expected after state officials and interest groups spent the past few decades aggressively promoting bilingual education. Yet gradually the intent of the legislation has prevailed in most places, apparently to the benefit of English Learners, at least judging by test scores. To explain these findings, however, I need to begin with some fundamentals about a much misunderstood topic.

Bilingual Education Before Proposition 227 During the past 25 years, essentially three different kinds of instructional programs have existed for students with limited English proficiency, also called English Learners. The first is English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring mixed with regular classroom instruction, wherein both English Learners and English-speaking students are taught in English in the same classroom for most of the day. English Learners receive their supplementary ESL tutoring in a pullout setting for anywhere from an hour a week to several hours a day. The second program is sheltered English immersion, which involves teaching in English to a classroom filled only with English Learners. If all the children speak one language, the teacher may also speak in that language occasionally to clarify or explain a concept, but the children learn to read and write in English and they receive math, science, social studies, and other subjects in English. Teachers of children who function poorly in English will initially spend most of the day teaching them to read and write in English. Gradually, however, other subjects are introduced. For children in 1st grade or higher, it is usually just a matter of months before much of the day is devoted to these other subjects.

In the third instructional program, the only one that meets the definition of bilingual education in the theoretical literature, students are taught initial literacy and subjects like math and science in their native tongue as they progress toward fluency in English. English is taught as a separate subject for about an hour a day initially, although there may be almost no English at all in kindergarten. The amount of English is typically increased over time, but students are not taught entirely in English until they are literate in their native tongue.

The facilitation theory underlying bilingual education as just defined has two parts. The "threshold" hypothesis states that there is a threshold level of linguistic competence in the native language that all children must attain in order to avoid cognitive disadvantages, while the "developmental interdependence" hypothesis holds that the development of skills in a second language is facilitated by skills already developed in learning the first language.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The near End of Bilingual: Prop 227 Was Supposed to Eliminate Bilingual Education from California's Schools. for the Most Part, It Succeeded-And Student Performance Is Climbing Slowly Upward
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.