Should California reinstate bilingual education?

If the name “Ron Unz” is ringing bells in your brain, it may be because of his initiative to raise California’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.

But when I interviewed him for my “Patt Morrison Asks” column, the subject of another initiative of his crafting came up too: Proposition 227, which 16 years ago effectively ended bilingual education as it was practiced in California, replacing it with English immersion.

Unz told me he has been “very pleased with the results” of 227, and that within a few years of its passing (by nearly 2 to 1), “the founding president of the California Assn. of Bilingual Educators publicly admitted he’d been wrong for 30 years.”


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“I’ve been told that younger teachers at schools don’t believe the stories the older teachers tell them about bilingual education — they’re sure they’re just making it all up. Test scores are up; the issue has resolved itself so smoothly it’s almost been forgotten.”

Not quite.

In Sacramento, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) wants to repeal 227 and reinstate bilingual education.

Unz has no time for that: “The proposal is totally ridiculous and demonstrates that Sen. Lara has never bothered to investigate the issue. The academic performance of over a million immigrant students roughly doubled in the four years following the passage of Proposition 227.”

Unz thinks it unlikely that a repeal measure would make it to the ballot, and believes it would fail if it did.

An entire generation of California students has graduated from high school without old-style bilingual education. How have those students fared? Would you vote to retain 227, or repeal it? Here’s the place to say it, whether it reaches the ballot or not.


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