A new bill proposed by California state Sen. Ricardo Lara could bring an end to Proposition 227, a law passed in 1998 which bans most bilingual education in California schools and requires students learn English by being taught in English only.
Lara introduced SB 1174, the Multilingual Education for a 21st Century Economy Act, on Thursday. The new measure would give parents a choice to have their children receive bilingual education, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The California senator notes that enrollment in bilingual programs dropped from 39 percent in 1997 to 13 percent in 2001.
“In an increasingly interconnected global economy, we have to prepare our students for a future in which their success depends not only on an ability to understand diverse perspectives and cultures, but also on an ability to communicate in different languages,” Lara said in a press release, according to The Huffington Post.
“Employers seek multilingual employees and all students -- English and non-English learners alike -- deserve access to this invaluable skill.”
Per The Huffington Post, California public schools educate 1.346 million English learners who constitute 21.6 percent of total enrollment, and 84 percent of those students are Spanish speakers.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Lara's bill is currently being back by a number of groups including the California Assn. for Bilingual Education and Californians Together, a coalition of parents, teachers, education advocates and civil rights groups.