Teachers in Post-Proposition-227 Southern California: Implications for Teacher Education

Article excerpt

This work reports on the implications of Proposition 227, a language policy replacing bilingual education with one year of English immersion in Southern California, on bilingual teacher candidates in a California State University Certification Program. An action-research, collaborative case study approach was used to examine the implications of the restrictive language policy for postgraduates. Data included the student narratives from weekly journals of emergency permit teachers, case studies of second language learners, observations of student teachers, and focused student teaching seminars in 1998-1999. The results were used to revise curricula to address specific issues raised by the students concerning teaching beginning speakers of English. The study suggests that Bilingual Credential Programs need to understand the following: a) how language policies affect the larger society, b) what revisions must be considered in teacher education courses, and c) that students in Bilingual Education programs must focus on two visions: short range compliance with 227 and Structured English Immersion; and the ideal education for societal bilingualism through dual language immersion.

The aftermath of Proposition 227, which replaced bilingual education with one year of English immersion affected the entire state of California like a tidal wave. English learners were no longer able to begin reading and learning subject matter in the language of their homes. Schools began a multitude of alternative programs, ranging from continued teaching in two languages by waiver, to limited primary language use, to sometimes tearfully incomprehensible English-only teaching. This article documents emergent themes on the new language policy as expressed by young bilingual teachers earning a bilingual credential while working with language minority children. The designation for such professionals in progress is "Emergency Teachers" and the California certification they seek is the Bilingual Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development Credential, or BCLAD. These data were gathered during the 1998-1999 program year at California State University, Long Beach.

Two core elements of the BCLAD are teaching methods for literacy in two languages and a teaching practicum. These ultimately verify the demonstration of linguistic competency in Spanish and the facilitation of literacy development in appropriate social-cultural contexts. The first is accomplished through a course, Bilteracy Development (EDEL 452B), and the second is slightly misnamed Student Teaching Practicum (EDEL 482B/C), since 90 percent of the students have been employed teachers for one to several years. The assignments in these requirements are more than exercises and the Student Teaching Seminar frequently serves as a sharing session for presenting pedagogically appropriate lessons in Spanish and English that have immediate usefulness.

To reflect upon academic and linguistic instructional issues, students are asked to conduct case studies of emergent readers using the dimensions of assessment, instruction and evaluation in the student's primary language and English. What follows is derived from their efforts, concerns, successes and reflections. A brief background statement concerning the context of Proposition 227 may set the tone for the pressures felt and expressed by the respondents. Although the sponsors of Proposition 227, Ron Unz and Gloria Matta Tuchman, repeatedly stated that English Language Education for Immigrant Children, (the heading for the new California Educational Code 300), was not an anti-immigrant issue, many saw it as further evidence of isolationism and the repression of diversity. Earlier propositions had taken aim at services for undocumented persons (Prop. 187 in 1994), and affirmative action access for minority candidates in higher education and employment (Prop. 209 in 1996). It seemed to some more than a coincidence--to others a clear conspiracy--that Prop. …


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