California voters are expected to “bring back” bilingual education, nearly two decades after the “English for the Children” initiative, Proposition 227, won in a landslide.
Proposition 58 has flown completely under the radar. Because of the ballot language says the goal is English proficiency (everybody likes that!), voters may not realize their voting for teaching English by teaching Spanish and other languages.
California never banned bilingual ed, but Proposition 227 required that parents sign a waiver each year if they want their child taught in a language other than English. Most immigrant parents did not.
As a result, schools had to dump low-quality, dumbed-down bilingual ed and design programs that parents would choose. Double-immersion programs are very popular with middle-class, English-speaking parents who want their kids to be multilingual.
If Proposition 58 passes, will educators try to force Latino kids into Spanish-language classes without parental consent? Will they try to teach with aides — very, very common in the old days — when they can’t find enough bilingual teachers? (Bilingual teachers remain in short supply.) They’d be crazy to go back to the old system. I think they’re smarter than that. I hope.