Opposing Views on Bilingual Education Aired at Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON—Bilingual education, an emotional issue among educators and minority activists, got a hearing on Capitol Hill, with Education Secretary William Bennett calling for more flexibility in the law.

But opponents of Reagan adminstration-backed amendments to the 1968 Bilingual Education Act say the changes would destroy programs that have proven successful.

Bennett told the Education, Arts and Humanities Subcommittee of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee Thursday he is not opposed to current use of the so-called transitional method, in which students are taught basic subjects in their native language while also learning English.

But he said the transitional method should be an option rather than the required system for school districts that receive most of the government’s annual $139 million in bilingual education funds.

Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy organization, said the proposal “is being misrepresented and sold to the public as granting ‘more flexibility’ to the local school district. The real purpose for the bill is to reduce bilingual education funding,” he said.

Bennett denied that was the case.

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