Friday, March 07, 2014

SB 1174: The next struggle for language rights in California is here!

SB 1174 would be just a first step, but an important step nonetheless. UTLA will hopefully be on the leading edge of championing this, and Cheryl Ortega's thoughtful piece (an early release of her column for United Teacher) below represents the most progressive of positions.

The two major factions that will oppose SB 1174 are as follows: the rabid, reactionary racists that are always in Ron Unz's orbit, and the corporate edreformers who are pushing the profitable Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It's no surprise the bigots will oppose it, despite the myriad benefits that all students receive from multilingual education programs. We also need to remember that multilingualism, and multilingual programs (eg Dual Language Immersion) are contrary to the goals and practices of CCSS. This latter issue will see big money from the billionaire funded nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) rally against it. Don't be shocked to see corporate edreform stalwarts like Ryan Smith and Yolie Flores of United Way Greater Los Angeles (UWGLA), and the smaller NPIC funded through UWGLA, oppose SB 1174 for not fitting in with the Broad and Gates Foundation agendas.

SB 1174 will be a struggle, but an important one. We can have broader campaigns about indigenous language rights and the like after the passage of SB 1174. Let's roll up our sleeves and get this done!

Robert D. Skeels

Bill to Repeal Ban on Bilingual Education
By May of this year SB 1174 (Lara) will be brought to the Education Committee of the State Assembly of California. Senator Lara’s bill proposes to overturn Proposition 227 which in 1998 began the cutting away of bilingual programs for California’s English Learners. If the bill passes the committee by a simple majority, it will continue to the Assembly and eventually the State Senate. Passing through these two bodies with, again, a simple majority, it will be put on the California ballot in May of 2016.
Prop 227 made placement in an English immersion program compulsory for all English Learners unless parents specifically requested a waiver from the law. A re-reading of prop 227 reminds me of the threats made to teachers and administrators that any mention of bilingual education could result in lawsuits even against individuals. Frozen with fear, most teachers refrained from advising parents of their rights. It is interesting to note that in the 16 years since the passage of the proposition, not a single lawsuit has ever been filed, but the threat was always lurking in the shadows. Also interesting is the fact that legal action also theoretically applied to individuals, schools and districts who withheld information about bilingual programs from parents. In hundreds of thousands of cases in LAUSD, the information was, and still is, routinely withheld and actually falsified to parents. No lawsuits have ever been filed in LAUSD on these grounds.
If 1174 becomes law, what will follow? That remains to be seen. At this point it only repeals 227. It does not offer direction as to what kind of programs English Learners could take advantage of. In 1998, LAUSD had not yet implemented Dual Language Education. A vastly superior model to the traditional transitional bilingual programs, this model should be available to all students. The research cannot be denied. Students in dual language programs outscore and outperform their counterparts in all-English programs. See Collier and Thomas The Astounding Effects of Dual Language Education for All.
Perhaps enough time has elapsed, 16 years, for Californians, and particularly teachers, to have realized that Prop 227 didn’t help anyone.
Please join the Bilingual Education Committee meeting on Wednesday, March 26 at 4:30 in room 828. Teachers in all programs are warmly welcomed.
Cheryl Ortega
Director of Bilingual Education


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