California senator proposes restoring bilingual education
SACRAMENTO -- Sixteen years after California voters approved an initiative requiring public school instruction in English, state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced a measure Thursday to repeal the requirement of Proposition 227.
Lara’s proposal would place an initiative on the ballot that would give parents a choice to have their children receive bilingual education.
“English will always remain the official language of California, but we cannot ignore the growing need to have a multilingual workforce,” Lara said.
He said the global economy requires those who graduate from school to be able to communicate in multiple languages. “Employers seek multilingual employees and all students — English and non-English learners alike — deserve access to this invaluable skill,” Lara added.
The percentage of elementary school-age students enrolled in some form of multilingual program declined from 39% in 1997, the year before the ballot measure, to 13% in 2001, Lara said.
SB 1174 is supported by groups including the California Assn. for Bilingual Education and Californians Together, a coalition of parents, teachers, education advocates and civil rights groups.
“Becoming biliterate will not only give students a valuable 21st century skill, but also celebrate diversity and multiculturalism and recognize that languages are an asset to our nation and society,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, executive director of Californians Together.
The view from Sacramento
For reporting and exclusive analysis from bureau chief John Myers, get our California Politics newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.