Bill would allow parents class choice

EDUCATION: A measure approved by the Assembly would let them remove public-school children from bilingual programs.

SACRAMENTO, CA—During a busy session Thursday, the Assembly sent to the Senate a bill by Assemblyman Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside, that would give parents the authority to take their children out of bilingual-education classes in public schools.

Morrow’s bill would authorize a parent to request that a pupil
be placed in a non-bilingual class. Bilingual classes are common in
parts of California, including Orange County, with high percentages of students who speak English with limited ability.

Specially trained teachers instruct in both English and a foreign language, usually Spanish, so that the non-English-speaking students do not fall behind in their studies.

Bilingual education came under stinging attack in a July 1993 report by the bipartisan Little Hoover Commission, which charged that the state’s programs are largely ineffective.

The report said fewer than 60,000 students are redesignated as fluent in English each year, despite increasing resources for such programs. Critics of the report, who disputed the commission’s failing grade, maintain that the state’s non-English-speaking population continues to grow, while qualified teachers remain a rare commodity.

One-fourth of Orange County’s students in 1991 were not fluent in English, speaking 46 languages and dialects. They could have filled 3,000 classrooms, yet county figures show there were only 374 credentialed bilingual teachers available.

Morrow’s bill, if it becomes law, would take effect Sept. 1.

The proposal is opposed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation.

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