Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cheryl Ortega of UTLA: SB 1174 and Civil Rights

Language rights are human rights

Tonight's UTLA House of Reps meeting will take up the question of whether to endorse SB 1174 (Lara). Senator Lara's bill proposes to put on the ballot in 2016 a repeal of Prop 227. This is seen by bilingual supporters and researchers statewide as a first step in returning full language rights to the students of California. These are the words of Dr. Patricia Gandara, Director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA:

Rather than to describe the legislation as "undoing 227", presenting 1174 in the positive, about what it will DO positively and that is to give both parents and teachers the freedom of choice, something that has been denied to them over the last 15 years.  Teachers will be able to choose to use the most effective pedagogies and parents will be able to choose the best programs for their children.  To have put this decision into the hands of people who had no expertise and no stake in the outcome was a real abuse of democracy.

Over the last 15 years while California has become an increasingly diverse state with an economy that is increasingly dependent on our commerce and relations with other nations, we have also developed a whole new body of research that illuminates the amazing benefits of multilingualism.  We now know that students who graduate as bilinguals will have significantly better job prospects—a recent survey shows that 2/3 of California employers—across all types of industries—prefer to hire bilinguals over monolinguals—the bilinguals will get the jobs!; we know that young bilinguals will earn more money and hold higher level positions than equally qualified monolinguals; that Latino bilinguals will graduate high school and go on to college at higher rates than monolingual Latinos, and based on a new study that followed students in both bilingual and dual language programs in San Francisco (where they continued their bilingual programs) compared to English immersion, from kinder to high school—the bilinguals reclassified to English proficient at higher rates and scored higher on ELA than English immersion students (I can provide the study).  All of these benefits are in addition to what had already been established—the cognitive and social-emotional benefits of bilingualism. — Professor Patricia Gandara

Senator Lara intends to present his bill, 1174, to the Senate Education Committee in early April. To have UTLA's endorsement would weigh heavily in his favor. To have UTLA vote it down would be seen favorably in the eyes of those in Sacramento who oppose language rights.

PACE voted (with no dissent) to recommend endorsement. The Board of Directors also voted unanimously in favor of recommendation.  We strongly urge you to be at the House tonight to help pass this language rights endorsement.

In unity,
Cheryl Ortega - Director of Bilingual Education
Marina Salas - Bilingual Education Committee Chair


No comments: