40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision on Rights of Linguistic Minorities
In 1974, the attorneys for Kenny Lau and 1800 Chinese speaking students sued the San Francisco School District on the grounds that these students were not receiving equal access to an education by virtue of their inability to comprehend English. The unanimous decision of the US Supreme Court - "Under state-imposed standards there is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education. Basic English skills are at the very core of what these public schools teach. Imposition of a requirement that, before a child can effectively participate in the educational program, he must already have acquired those basic skills is to make a mockery of public education. We know that those who do not understand English are certain to find their classroom experiences wholly incomprehensible and in no way meaningful."
The attorney for Kenny Lau and 1800 Chinese students in San Francisco successfully argued that "Taking people who are the same and treating them differently is one type of discrimination but taking people who are different and treating them the same, is subtler, but, is equally discriminating."
Language Rights are Civil Rights protected by the 14th amendment to the US Constitution