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Lau Vs. Nichols: English Language Learners

1577 words - 6 pages

There are three federal court cases that provide the legal foundation for providing equal educational opportunity to students with limited English Proficiency, Lau vs. Nichols 1973, Castaneda vs. Pickard 1981 and Plyler vs. Doe 1982 (The English Language Learners Knowledge Base, 2004).This research paper will focus on Lau vs. Nichols, a major ruling by the Supreme Court in reference to Title VI of the Civil rights act of 1964. In this research paper I will give the history, outcome and discuss the implications that have affected ELL classroom / learners of the future. This cases main point was that when children arrive in school with little or no English-speaking ability, "sink or swim" instruction is a violation of their civil rights.In 1974 The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Lau vs. Nichols case set major precedent regarding the educational rights of language minorities, although this fact is grounded in statute (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), rather than in the U.S. Constitution. At issue was whether school administrators may meet their obligation to provide equal educational opportunities merely by treating all students the same, or whether they must offer special help for students unable to understand English. Lower federal courts had absolved the San Francisco school district of any responsibility for minority children's "language deficiency." But a unanimous Supreme Court disagreed. Its ruling opened a new era in federal civil rights enforcement under the so-called "Lau Remedies." The decision was delivered by Justice William O. Douglas on January 21, 1974 (Find Law, 2006).HistoryThe following are inserts from the case. This class suit brought by non-English-speaking Chinese students against officials responsible for the operation of the San Francisco Unified School District sought relief against the unequal educational opportunities which were alleged to violate, inter alia, the Fourteenth Amendment. No specific remedy was urged upon us. Teaching English to the students of Chinese ancestry who do not speak the language is one choice. Giving instructions to this group in Chinese is another. There may be others. Petitioner asks only that the Board of Education be directed to apply its expertise to the problem and rectify the situation. ...The Court of Appeals reasoned that "every student brings to the starting line of his educational career different advantages and disadvantages caused in part by social, economic and cultural background, created and continued completely apart from any contribution by the school system"; 83 F.2d 497. Yet in our view the case may not be so easily decided. This is a public school system of California and § 71 of the California Education Code states that "English shall be the basic language of instruction in all schools." That section permits a school district to determine "when and under what circumstances instruction may be given bilingually." That section also states as "the policy of the...

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1354 words - 5 pages constitution to ban instruction in any language other than English. However, as a result of the ruling of the case Lau vs. Nichols which took place in San Francisco; the school district of San Francisco was allowed to continue to provide bilingual education to its students after it was banned by Proposition 227. In the educational policy aspects of bilingual education other school districts in some states decided to actively seek parental waivers that

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