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Bilingual Education A Hot Topic In California, 16 Years After Prop 227

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Andrew Nixon
/
Capital Public Radio

Back in the late 1990's, California voters passed Proposition 227, which imposed strict restrictions on bilingual education in California's public school classrooms.

Supporters of the effort said English immersion was the best way for English learners to succeed and assimilate into society. Critics said by teaching core subjects only in English, non-English speakers were at a disadvantage in the classroom.

That debate has simmered for 16 years, but now it's back in the news. A new bill by Senator Ricardo Lara would put a repeal of the Prop 227 restrictions before voters in November 2016. Lara says California of today is different from California of the late 1990's and that districts and parents should have more say over the types of dual-language programs that schools offer.

That bill, SB-1174 was recently approved by the Senate Education Committee, with support not only from Democrats, but also from Republican Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff. So is California really ready to change course on bilingual education? On Valley Edition we heard from guests on opposite sides of the issue:

  • Patricia Gandara, research professor of education at UCLA and co-director of the Civil Rights Project
  • Cliff Colwell, an orthopedic surgeon and a member of the board of directors of the group Pro English
Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of Valley Public Radio. During his tenure, he's helped lead the station through major programming changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining the station's financial health. From 2010-2018 he served as the station's Director of Program Content. In that role, he also served as the host of Valley Edition, and helped launch and grow the station's award-winning local news department. He is a Fresno native and a graduate of California State University, Fresno.
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