About one in five students in California schools is learning English as a second language. Eighteen years ago, voters approved Proposition 227, effectively outlawing bilingual education in public schools. One reason the initiative passed is that many bilingual programs weren’t doing a very good job. However, academic research coupled with almost two decades of test results shows that English-immersion programs aren’t doing any better. A study of Proposition 227’s effects found the performance gap between English learners and native English speakers was virtually unchanged and that, even after 10 years in California schools, an English learner has less than a 40 percent chance of being considered proficient in English.
Proposition 58 on the Nov. 8 ballot would repeal Proposition 228 and restore the ability of local school districts, in consultation with parents, to offer bilingual education programs. Over the past several years, California has been increasing local control of K-12 education. Proposition 58 is another step in that direction, and The Press Democrat recommends a yes vote.