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Bilingual Education

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Bilingual Education

For almost two centuries, communities throughout the United States have had some system of bilingual education. “An 1839 Ohio law allowed for instruction in German, English, or both in the classroom, according to the wishes of parents” (Leal and Hess 2000). This was a system constructed to help non English speaking students learn English and still prosper in schools. However, more recently we have seen hostility towards languages other than English being the language of instruction.

After the devastating events of 9/11 and the more recent increase in legal and illegal immigration, many Americans have become weary of anything that appears to be un-American. Fears of foreigners coming over to “their” country and taking over are being exacerbated by the media and various laws have been proposed and enacted to outlaw non-English instruction in American primary and secondary schools.

The articles, The Politics of Bilingual Education Expenditures in Urban School Districts and The Proposition: English Only for Educating Children, touch on just how controversial and complex this issue has become. The issue of bilingual education started to gain more attention in 1998 when the state of California proposed an act that would end all bilingual education in that state. This proposed act was called Proposition 227. After the proposition was announced to residents of California, the state government received numerous lawsuits and criticism from people who were in opposition. In the wake of this controversy, many politicians continued to support funding for bilingual education programs. “On the federal level, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, composed of seventeen Latino Democratic members of Congress, continued to support increased funding for bilingual education programs” (Leal and Hess 2001). They also encouraged members in the community to...

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