Prop. 227 a burden for many schools

Staffs must abandon bilingual education by first day of classes

Whether they like it or not, California school districts have been given their marching orders to eliminate bilingual education by the fall semester.

Since Proposition 227 passed June 2, some districts quickly began to implement the mandate.

But as the clock ticks its way through summer, many other districts are still balking at what they consider the costly and time-consuming task of overhauling a decades-long program, and searching for legal loopholes to get them off the hook.

Backed by 61 percent of California’s voters, Prop. 227 requires school districts to replace bilingual classrooms with a one-year, “structured English immersion” program to accommodate the state’s 1.4million students who speak limited English. They make up 25 percent of all public school students.

Prop. 227 allows local districts to determine how to tailor their programs to comply with the law. But because the measure doesn’t provide a detailed road map, some districts are finding the whole task confusing.

“A lot of administrators are saying, ‘Give me a flashlight, it’s dark out here,'” said Don Iglesias, a member of the Association of California School Administrators board. “Principals are panicky over it.”

So panicky, in fact, that Iglesias’ group created a Prop. 227 “quick response task force” to help them figure out how to create specific educational programs.

Virtually every educational organization in the state opposed the initiative, saying its passage would set back the education of immigrant children.

Prop. 227, drafted by Silicon Valley software millionaire Ron Unz, orders teachers to use English “overwhelmingly” in class, rather than the foreign language of students. No one has pinned Prop. 227.

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