The Bilingual Education Story: Why Can't the News Media Get it Right?
By James Crawford

It’s too bad that Ron Unz was unable to make it here today to participate on this panel, as scheduled. I had hoped to continue our debate over Proposition 227, to get his answers to the many questions about how his anti-bilingual- education initiative will be implemented in California schools, and to hear his response to the legal challenge brought by civil-rights advocates. It would also be interesting to know whether Mr. Unz plans to stay involved with the education of English language learners (ELLs), or whether he’s going to move on to additional items on his political agenda, leaving it to others to sort out the chaos that 227 has created.

That process is likely to take some time. A few school districts, such as San Francisco and Oakland, are planning resistance. A few others are bending over backward to comply, literally throwing out their Spanishlanguage materials formerly used in bilingual classrooms. Some are looking for loopholes in the English-only mandate as they formulate their implementation plans. And many districts seem to be in denial, waiting for an injunction from a Federal court or at least some direction from the state. Clear guidance may not be forthcoming right away, since the California State Board of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin are fighting overwhowill have the last wordin interpreting the law.

Parents, especially those who have English-speaking kids in those popular two-way bilingual (or ‘dual immersion’) programs, are petitioning the state for waivers of 227. Nobody knows whether their requests will be granted, even though these programs are widely acknowledged to be successful.

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