Wednesday, November 16, 2016

California’s New Embrace of Bilingual Education: An Academic and a Personal Affirmation | janresseger

California’s New Embrace of Bilingual Education: An Academic and a Personal Affirmation | janresseger:

California’s New Embrace of Bilingual Education: An Academic and a Personal Affirmation



Patricia Gandara, the Co-Director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, explains the technical significance of Californians’ rejection at the polls last week of the 1998, Proposition 227, which mandated English-only in the public schools. Voters replaced it with Proposition 58, which grants local school districts the right to design their own programs for English language instruction, including bilingual education.
Here is Gandara’s description of what happened last week in California: “As the election results were rolling in across the country signaling that Donald Trump would become the 45th president of the United States, nearly three-quarters of Californians had voted to restore bilingual education in California. The Trump campaign had been overtly anti-immigrant, while the restoration of bilingual education was an affirmation of the valuing of the children of immigrants…  Proposition 58, ‘The Multilingual Education Initiative,’ lifted the ban and expands access to bilingual (usually targeted to English learners) and dual-language programs (that incorporate both English learners and English speakers wanting to learn a second language).”
Gandara briefly summarizes academic research on the benefits of bilingual education of both types: “During the last 18 years, research has been conducted that shows significant benefits to multilingual instruction. Canadians have long been researching the cognitive benefits and concluding that learning in more than one language effectively made students ‘smarter’—they demonstrated a greater capacity for focused attention and avoidance of distractions… In recent years, longitudinal research—following the same children over their entire school career, from kindergarten to high school—comparing those in bilingual and dual-language programs to those in English-only classrooms, has concluded that while the bilinguals start slower, they end with superior outcomes in English, and Latino students perform better in both English and math when enrolled in bilingual programs.”
It is a fine thing that Californians have taken the very step that academic researchers recommend.  It is far more moving to understand how this feels personally to someone who endured the English-only regime that has operated for a long time in California and many other places across the United States.  In Tuesday’s NY Times, Héctor Tobar, a professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, tells his own story as a boy who grew up during California’s New Embrace of Bilingual Education: An Academic and a Personal Affirmation | janresseger:


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