Voter Driven Initiatives

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English Only Voter-Driven Initiatives

English Only Voter-Driven Initiatives/Laws

Christy Stewart
Grand Canyon University: ESL-223N
September 19, 2012

English Only Voter-Driven Initiatives/Laws There has been heavy debate over the best way to educate students whose first language is not English. Historically, past federal laws and court decisions protected the rights of non-English speaking children. One federal law established during the 1960s was the Bilingual Education Act (Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1968). This law provided legal guidelines and funding for transitional bilingual education programs. In the Lau v. Nichols, case, the Supreme Court ruled that school districts were required to take affirmative steps to protect the civil rights of limited-English-proficient students (Mora, 2009). Due to the increase of non-English speaking students in the schools, several states asked the voters to make policy decisions regarding the education of English language learners. Voters in California, Arizona and Massachusetts by large percentages voted to pass the anti-bilingual education initiatives. However, other states like Colorado and Oregon rejected the initiatives. California’s Proposition 227, Arizona’s Proposition 203 and Massachusetts’s 603 CMR 14.00, state that all English language learners be educated for one year through a sheltered (or structured) English immersion program. This program would provide all instruction in English for the year; students must then transfer into mainstream English classrooms. These laws allow instruction of students in their non-English native language only under limited and restricted conditions through a parental petition and waiver process (Mora, 2009). The debate lies in the sociological and cultural impact this initiative has on families and…...

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