The Right to a Bilingual Education in California

When Proposition – 58 passed in 2016 it repealed Proposition 227. Proposition 227 eliminated bilingual education for students who speak a language other than English in the state of California. Proposition -58 makes bilingual education programs a requirement in public schools as long as they meet the following requirement.

Community members have the right to request a bilingual education program at their local public schools if 30 students at any given school are considered English Learners. This rule also applies if there are 20 students in any given grade level who are considered English Learners. English Learners are students whose parents have stated on a Home Language Survey that they speak a language other than English at home. School administrators test children whose parents have stated that they speak a language other than English at home to see if they fall along an English Learner continuum. In the state of California, there are several labels used to identify an individual as an “English Learner.” It should be noted that “English Learners” are bilingual children. Many of our bilingual children come from minoritized and immigrant communities. They arrive at our local public schools with a wealth of cultural and linguistic knowledge and it is time for us in California to open our school doors ready to learn from and with them.

That being said, any school community member can request a bilingual education program. In other words, the school community member does not have to be a parent of an English Learner. The website, Ala y Voz (by California Together), has created an array of materials school communities can use to raise awareness about requesting a bilingual education program. The website also includes information about HOW to request a bilingual education program at your local school.

There are several models of bilingual education communities can request and the one that is chosen really depends on the school and community demographics. The model that is highly effective and has gained a great deal of popularity is the two-way immersion dual language model. I recommend those seeking a bilingual education program choose a model that best meets their school needs.

Lets work towards creating awareness about our multilingual communities in the U.S. One way to start is by being aware of our (language) rights and advocating for bilingual education.