Teachers Tackle English-Only

Attacks on Bilingual Education will be Hot Topic at Convention

More than 7,000 bilingual educators from across the country are meeting in Phoenix beginning today for their annual convention, where growing attacks against bilingual education will serve as a dominant undercurrent.

Less than four months ago, Arizona voters passed a law replacing traditional bilingual education with English immersion programs. That helped fuel a trend begun two years earlier when California voters passed a similar law.
The measure could spread to Colorado and other parts of the United States where bilingual education has increasingly come under attack.

“We are concerned for Arizona and also for the ripple effect as it gains press and moves to other states,” said April Haulman, a bilingual-education professor at the University of Central Oklahoma who is attending the National Association of Bilingual Education conference.

The group discussed moving the convention elsewhere in protest of Proposition 203, the voter-approved limit on bilingual education in Arizona,
said the association’s executive director Delia Pompa.

But it decided to keep the forum here to support bilingual educators in Arizona and send a message that bilingual education isn’t going away, she said.

Several of the conference’s workshops will address Proposition 203. But the measure won’t derail the event’s main purpose — to join researchers and teachers to share information about the latest programs for teaching the estimated 4 million U.S. students with limited English proficiency, she said.

“We are not all focused on how to fight Ron Unz,” Pompa said, referring to the California millionaire who bankrolled anti-bilingual initiatives in California and Arizona. “Proposition 203 is an annoyance. We’re not happy about it, but life goes on.”

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