Voter Initiatives Affecting Ell

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State Voter Initiatives Affecting the Education of English Language Learners Jennifer Milam
Grand Canyon University: ESL-523N
January 30, 2013

State Voter Initiatives Affecting the Education of English Language Learners
It is no secret that the debate over what is the best course of action to educate our non-native English language students across the country is a highly charged topic that runs from the classroom to Capitol Hill. There have been many shifts in direction and focus of educational programs for English Language Learning (ELL) students during the past century in our nation's history. In 1968, with the passage of the Bilingual Education Act (Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) legislation was adopted to support programs for educating language-minority students. For the first time, this federal law provided legal guidelines and funding for transitional bilingual education programs. This legislation was further developed in 1974 as a result of the US Supreme Court ruling in Lau V Nichols where a group of Chinese immigrant parents in San Francisco argued that the school district was not adequately providing an equal and effective education because they failed to address their students' needs to learn English. As a result of this ruling the mandate to school districts was established to focus funding and attention around a sufficient bilingual education program. Several rulings following this case helped to clarify the need for adequate pedagogy, a sufficient number of qualified teachers to implement the program and a system to measure the effectiveness (Mora,2009).

However, the tone of bilingual education began to shift beginning in 1998 when states began to propose anti-bilingual-education ballot initiatives. Three such initiatives were passed in California (1998), Arizona (2000), and Massachusetts (2002) but were rejected in Colorado (2002) and Oregon (2008). (Mora, 2009) All three initiatives in California,...
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