California Law Affects Non-English Speakers Education

When California voters adopted Proposition 227 in June, it got people wondering if the initiative could spread to other states like Florida.

Proposition 227 gives non-English-speaking students one year of intensive English-language tutoring, then moves them into regular classes, whether they understand English or not.

Proposition 227 was pushed by millionaire Ron Unz, who said bilingual classes have short-changed immigrants and threatened the idea of an English speaking California.

Proposition 227 is a bill that will eliminate the local school districts ability to choose an educational policy with respect to all limited-English-proficiency kids, says Robert Blake, director of the Second Language Acquisition Institute at the University of California-Davis.

Blake also adds that Proposition 227 mandates a uniform solution for all L.E.P. (limited-English) kids in the state of California.

In California nearly one-quarter of the kids are enrolled in bilingual classes, but only 6 percent make the transition into English classes.

Proposition 227 advocates mixing children of all ages with the same proficiency level in a sheltered English immersion program.

Sheltered English immersion is an experimental program, Blake continues.

It is flat wrong to think that immigrant kids can acquire the academic fluency in only one year, he says

The institutes research indicates that to reach academic fluency in a second language, it would take five to seven years. This is the same amount of time a university student needs to become a fluent speaker of a second language.

And how much will Proposition 227 cost?

California will spend $50 million per year to train adults to tutor limited-English kids in English, but theres no information on how much the same thing would cost in Florida.

Many people view Hispanic- Americans and Latin people in general as another set of immigrants destined to assimilate into mainstream American culture.

As in the 80s and early 90s, crude propaganda designed to create resentment against poor Spanish-speaking workers has become common in discussions about issues like U.S. immigration laws, bilingual education programs and Proposition 227.

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