Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 11
print ad (2/5 3 Col)
A 2000 campaign
sign urged voters to
reject an initiative
that banned bilingual
schools. Now, the
state schools chief
and lawmakers are
expected to repeal
20-year-old ban in
'English-Only' for ELLs Seen
As Ineffective, Inequitable
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Educational Opportunities Act, a law that requires states
and districts to provide students with appropriate aid to
overcome language barriers.
The laws in Arizona, California, and Massachusetts,
known as the "Unz initiatives," replaced bilingual education with structured- or sheltered-English-immersion
Research-backed bilingual education models often
take a different approach, such as mixing native English
speakers with English-learners in dual-language classrooms in which students learn English and a second
Software developer Ronald Unz, the namesake of
the initiatives and financier of the campaigns to ban
bilingual education in Arizona and California, isn't convinced that a return to bilingual education will benefit
In the early 2000s, Unz and other proponents of California's English-only law felt vindicated when ELLs' test
scores in English proficiency and reading rose in the first
few years after the law passed.
"All the research is done by bilingual activists and bilingual academics and bilingual professors," Unz said.
"They all predicted getting rid of bilingual education
would be a gigantic disaster."
But evidence began to emerge more than a decade
ago that the English-only approach was not producing
the intended results. A U.S. Department of Educationfunded study released in 2008 found that states with
bilingual education had smaller achievement gaps on
the National Assessment of Educational Progress than
states with the "Unz initiatives."
More than 15 years after the law passed, Arizona has
one of the nation's lowest graduation rates for Englishlearners; roughly 40 percent of English-learners in
the class of 2017 earned a high school diploma in four
years. That's 25 percentage points below the national
"With the passage of time and the outcomes we were
getting, we could see, anybody could see, that it wasn't
working," said Delia Pompa, a senior fellow for education policy at the Migration Policy Institute's National
Center on Immigration Policy.
Pompa was head of the U.S. Department of Education's bilingual education office and then the National
Association of Bilingual Education during the years that
voters passed the Unz initiatives.
The accountability movement in K-12 education ushered in by the No Child Left Behind Act led to the undoing of the English-only laws because districts had to
closely monitor the progress of all students, including
English-learners, she said.
"There was a mistaken notion that if you just expected these kids to speak English and work harder
at it, they would do it. It was clear that these kids
weren't doing well," Pompa said. "I don't think it's
an accident that you kind of saw a domino effect with
Despite the undoing of the Unz initiatives, dozens
of states still have laws or constitutional amendments
on the books that establish English as their official language-and some still prohibit or limit instruction in
other languages except in foreign language classes.
Setting, Measuring, and Achieving
Strategic Goals to Support the Whole Child
Districts across the country will
renew their strategic plans in
2020 with a focus on supporting
growth of the whole child. Join this
superintendent and district leader
roundtable to learn how districts
are setting and tracking goals that
represent district and community
priorities in the 21st century.
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
2-3 PM ET
* Eric GalliEN, superintendent,
Racine Unified School
* AndReA RittgeRS, director of
student services, Racine Unified
School district, Racine, Wis.
* MAURice AndeRSon, account
director, Panorama Education
Despite the mounting evidence, the tide against the
English-only education laws did not begin to turn until
That's when California voters passed Proposition 58,
which effectively repealed that state's Unz initiative:
Parents there no longer have to sign waivers if they
want their children to participate in bilingual education
or dual-language immersion.
A year later, Massachusetts lawmakers passed the
LOOK Act, an acronym for "language opportunity for
As in California, Massachusetts districts can now
select their own method for teaching English to Englishlearners.
The push to repeal Proposition 227 in California, also
led to the creation of the seal of biliteracy, which grants
special recognition to high school graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages. Less than a
decade after California introduced the honor, students
in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia can earn
recognition for their ability to read, speak, and write in
more than one language.
Patricia Sandoval-Taylor, the director of the language
acquisition department in the Tucson, Ariz., district,
taught in a structured English-immersion classroom
after the state's English-only law passed.
When helping her students define a vocabulary word
such as elegant, Sandoval-Taylor said she was prohibited
from using the Spanish equivalent, elegante, to help her
students make the connection.
"Even though I knew their primary language and
could help them with that tool, I instead had to use English only," Sandoval-Taylor said.
Lisa Graham Keegan, who served as Arizona's state
schools superintendent when the English-only law
passed, said some of the state's highest performing
schools, especially those with significant Englishlearner populations, simply ignored the law.
"The nonsense that occurs when we deny children the
opportunity to use and develop their native language
can be both demoralizing and counterproductive,"
"Our best examples of teaching English well do so
with great respect to, and use of, the native language."
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EDUCATION WEEK | October 30, 2019 | www.edweek.org | 11
Education Week - October 30, 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 30, 2019
Education Week - October 30, 2019
Deep in the Woods, a Test Of Leadership and Resolve
Minimum Wage Hikes Stress Districts
State Bans on Bilingual Ed. Nearly Extinct
Q&A: 5 Big Ed-Tech Problems And How to Solve Them
Later Starts: Do They Help?
What the Research Says
Elizabeth Warren’s K-12 Plan Spotlights Funding, Charters
Higher-Ed. Legislation Bubbling in Congress
Raising the Bar for Evidence In Education
An Educator’s Wisdom Is Evidence
Letters to the Editor
EdWeek Top School Jobs
Science Fact vs. Science Fiction
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - State Bans on Bilingual Ed. Nearly Extinct
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 2
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - Briefly Stated
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 4
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - Q&A: 5 Big Ed-Tech Problems And How to Solve Them
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - What the Research Says
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 7
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - Elizabeth Warren’s K-12 Plan Spotlights Funding, Charters
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - Higher-Ed. Legislation Bubbling in Congress
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 10
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 11
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 12
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 13
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 14
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 15
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - An Educator’s Wisdom Is Evidence
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - 17
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - Letters to the Editor
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - EdWeek Top School Jobs
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - Science Fact vs. Science Fiction
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - CW1
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - CW2
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - CW3
Education Week - October 30, 2019 - CW4