The issue of English language learners (ELL) and their rights to an education has been a major topic of debate for many years. Should ELL students be taught in their first language? Will they learn English, or should they be put into English speaking classes? That has been the topic of discussion amongst educators. Which method is better for the student? The arguments continue and many states and school districts have made a decision on what to do. One state in particular had a serious ELL problem, so California took action. In 1998, California implemented a program called Proposition 227.
Proposition 227 was legislation that was put to a vote by the California government. Proposition 227 was passed on June 2, 1998. Proposition 227 changed the way schools were to teach to ELL students. Before proposition 227, ELL students were taught in their first language and English was mixed in. The hope was that eventually the ELL students would be placed in all English classes. The ELL students would be slowly weaned into the all English classes. Wit the passage of Proposition 227, that all had to change. The state of California was taking their education philosophy in a different direction.
Proposition 227 stated that all classes in the state of California were to be taught in all English programs. The ELL students had to be placed in all English classes with the English speaking students. The ELL students were forced to speak English when they were in school, no matter how well they understood English. Proposition 227 was a push for the use of a single language in schools. The goal was to get all students in the California school system to speak and understand English. The new law was a drastic change but the voters of California felt strongly enough to vote Proposition 227 into law.
When Proposition 227 was voted in, it was challenged in the California State Courts almost immediately. "The legislative language of Proposition 227 was sufficiently vague and thus created other problems."1 Torrez. Pg. 208. The legislatures wording of Proposition 227 was unclear and left a great deal of the legislation open to interpretation. The wording was not black and white; there was great deal of gray area. This only helped to cause more confusion amongst the school districts. "The law, itself, spoke to specific changes and mentioned curriculum issues. Yet, there was no money set aside to create the new curricular approach, and no plan to in-service teachers in the new methodology to be utilized". 2 Torrez, 2001, pg. 208. There also was no time line in place for the implementation of the new mandated changes. The proposition had been passed but it had not been thought through. The politicians wanted this piece of legislation passed but they did not thoroughly research their new legislation.
The legislators created Proposition 227 because the people of California wanted such a law enacted. That is why the people of California voted for the...