BILINGUAL EDUCATION BILL ADVANCES?

BILINGUAL EDUCATION BILL ADVANCES?

SACRAMENTO, JULY 9 (UPI) _ THE ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE WILL APPROVED OR REJECTED (WEDNESDAY) A SENATE BILL GIVING CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS MORE FLEXIBILITY IN BILINGUAL PROGRAMS. IT WOULD ALLOW DISTRICTS TO DETERMINE WHETHER NON-ENGLISH-SPEAKING STUDENTS SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE OR PLACED IN OTHER PROGRAMS, DEPENDING ON WHAT IS MOST EFFECTIVE.

PRESENT LAW REQUIRES THAT STUDENTS BE TAUGHT IN THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGE FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES TO BUILD A FOUNDATION OF ACADEMIC SKILLS BEFORE THEY TRANSITION INTO AN ALL-ENGLISH CURRICULUM.
PROPONENTS OF THE BILL SAY THAT APPROACH HAS WORKED IN SOME DISTRICTS, BUT IS INEFFECTIVE WHERE STUDENTS SPEAK A BROAD ARRAY OF FOREIGN LANGUAGES.
ALPERT’S BILL WOULD REFORM STATE POLICY TO LET DISTRICTS EMPLOY A WIDER VARIETY OF TEACHING TECHNIQUES, INCLUDING ENLISH IMMERSION FOR STUDENTS WHO ARE READY FOR IT, OR INSTRUCTION IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE.
IT ALSO WOULD REQUIRE THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO SET STANDARDS FOR WHAT THE STATE’S 1.3 MILLION ENGLISH LEARNERS SHOULD KNOW AND WHEN THEY SHOULD KNOW IT. DISTRICTS WOULD BE REQUIRED TO SHOW PROGREESS TOWARD MEETING THE STANDARDS BY THE YEAR 2000 AND CHANGE THEIR APPROACH IF THEY FAIL.
OPPONENTS INCLUDING BILINGUAL EDUCATORS AND IMMIGRANT-RIGHTS GROUPS WARN THAT ALL NATIVE LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION WOULD BE ELIMINATED UNDER THE BILL. PROPONENTS SAY THE BILL EXPLICITLY REQUIRES SUCH INSTRUCTION IF THE ASSESSMENT SHOWS THE STUDENT CAN’T BENEFIT FROM INSTRUCTION ONLY IN ENGLISH.
09-07-97

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