The battle over whether English-only immersion in schools has reignited with Prop 58, which would allow schools to teach students in their native language as they are acclimated to English.
Supporters of Prop. 58 say that bilingual education gives students a chance to learn in the best way that meets their individual needs. Another argument for the measure has focused on how mastering two languages is in demand in the job market and could help boost the economy. There are currently more than 1 million English learners that would be affected by the measure, most of which are Spanish speaking, though the number of Vietnamese and Tagalog speaking students is growing.
Prop. 58 would repeal Prop. 227, the ballot measure passed in 1998 which put existing bilingual education limits into play. Prop 227’s original champion, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ron Unz, has argued that students who don’t learn English properly will have trouble in their transition to English-only classes.
What do you think of bilingual education in classrooms? Do you have personal experiences learning in an English-only environment? If so, do you think you would have benefited from a bilingual education?
Ricardo Lara, State Senator representing California’s 33rd district, which covers the Los Angeles County’s Southeast cities including Bell, Lynwood, South Gate and most of Long Beach; he authored Prop 58
Ron Unz, Chairman of English for the Children, the organization that originally sponsored Prop. 227, which requires Limited English Proficient, or LEP, students to be taught nearly all in English; the measure was approved in 1998
(Reprinted from KPCC Airtalk by permission of author or representative)