Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

House Approves Plan to Limit Bilingual Education

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

House Approves Plan to Limit Bilingual Education

Article excerpt

Washington Update: House Approves Plan to Limit Bilingual Education

A House-passed bill to dismantle some bilingual education programs also would undermine federal civil rights law, critics charge.

"It is called the English Language Fluency Act. More appropriately, it should be called the anti-children civil rights bill," Rep. Matthew Martinez (D-Calif.) said about H.R. 3892, which the House approved Sept. 10.

The bill would place a two-year time limit on bilingual classes, after which students must move into mainstream education. The measure also would curtail funds for immigrant education and teacher training, critics say.

But some of the most contentious House debate focused on the activities of the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights and its role in bilingual education. According to Martinez and other critics, H.R. 3892 would terminate 276 voluntary compliance agreements between school districts and OCR on bilingual education. The agreements help schools implement a Supreme Court decision, Lau v. Nichols, that gave limited English-speaking students the right to equal education access.

Terminating those agreements "is an unprecedented and shameful effort to gut the enforcement" of civil rights laws, said Rep. …

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