Consequences and Reactions to California's Referendum on Bilingual Education

* NOTE: the following links are no longer updated but are provided for an historical perspective. Sites, and articles listed here are not necessarily endorsed by the CMMR; they are listed for informational purposes only. These current awareness resources are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a sampling of what was available during the post 227 era.

If you would like to submit an item for inclusion on this page please write our webmaster. To suggest a site to be added to this web site please visit our "Submit a Site" page.

Besides our post election review of 227 In the News, review Editorials and Opinions, and hear reports following the approval of Prop. 227 using "RealAudio" software. Visit the CMMR Archives on Proposition 227 for an historical prespective of the ballot initiative.

Election Returns on California's State Ballot Measures

The Center for Multilingual, Multicultural Research (CMMR) through the California Secretary of State's office is pleased to provide election returns on the Internet on State Ballot Measures voted on June 2, 1998 including Propsition 227.

LOS ANGELES, June 4 -- The electorate that produced June 2nd results was more Democratic than usual and reflected a somewhat higher turnout of union members and supporters than four years ago. Otherwise, the turnout fit California's classic profile, with voters tending to be older, wealthier and better educated. (Los Angeles Times)

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LOS ANGELES, June 3 -- California voters were in a sunny mood as they headed to the polls Tuesday, according to a CNN/Los Angeles Times exit poll of 5,143 voters. Californians were voting for the first time under a new system known as a "blanket primary," in which voters of any party could vote for any candidate and all candidates appeared on the ballot. Here are the survey's numbers from CNN.

An Education Week on the Web special brings you an in-depth look at the vote on Proposition 227, the June 2 California ballot initiative to limit bilingual education. This Web extra also includes results of California referendums designed to cap school districts' administrative spending and curtail unions' political activities.

By Bruce Beattie, Daytona Beach News-Journal

The Attorney General of California Issues Opinion Affirming Rights of Parents

The Attorney General of California issued an opinion that affirms the rights of parents to have a bilingual education option that they may apply for by means of a waiver in any California school. A school district may not deny a parental request for an individual waiver from the statutory mandate that all students be instructed in English on the sole ground that the district has no alternative program.

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"The Initial Impact of Proposition 227 on the Instruction of English Learners"

During the first year of implementation a team of University of California researchers studied the effects of Proposition 227 in 16 districts and 25 schools throughout the state. The researchers interviewed district administrators, principals, teachers, and bilingual coordinators and observed classrooms. This study has yielded several important insights into the early implementation and impact of Proposition 227.

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Evaluating the Effects of the Implementation of Proposition 227 on the Education of English Learners, K-12

by T. B. Parrish, M. Eaton, B. Farr, D. Montgomery, and R. Linquanti. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of the implementation of Proposition 227 on the education of pupils attending kindergarten and grades 1 through 12 in California public schools, including the Community Based English Tutoring Program (CBETP) established by Proposition 227, and the English Language Acquisition Program (ELAP).

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What Can We Learn About the Impact of Proposition 227 from SAT-9 Scores?

An Analysis of Results from 2000 by Jennifer Evelyn Orr, Yuko Goto Butler, Michele Bousquet, and Kenji Hakuta from Stanford University. Statewide scores for LEP student performance on the Stanford 9 (SAT-9) test for the year 2000 were released by California. The results are of particular interest to those who have followed the impact of Proposition 227.

A Few Things Ron Unz Would Prefer You Didn't Know About English Learners in California: How Proposition 227 Has Failed at Least 1,330,478 Children

Compeling article by James Crawford suggesting that Proposition 227 has clearly broken its promise to teach students English within one year. Last year fewer than one in 12 LEP students were redesignated as fluent English proficient (FEP). And many of these students had already been in language programs for more than one year. As shown below, California's statewide "redesignation rate" increased only slightly between 1998 and 2000, continuing a trend that began in the early 1990s ­ long before passage of the English-only initiative. In absolute terms, the number of children who need special help with English continues to grow each year.

CTA Files Lawsuit to Protect Teachers From Prop. 227 Liability

The California Teachers Association, the Association of California School Administrators and other education groups will file a lawsuit charging that portions of Proposition 227 which expose teachers and school administrators to lawsuits for instructing students in languages other than English are unconstitutionally vague and should not be enforced. The suit seeks a permanent injunction against the teacher liability portion of Prop. 227. According to the suit filed in federal district court, Section 320 of Prop. 227 is so unconstitutionally vague that teachers cannot determine what actions are prohibited and what conduct is required. The section provides that teachers, administrators and school board members can be personally held liable for attorneys fees and damages in lawsuits from parents opposing bilingual education. According to plaintiffs, making educators personally liable for complying with a vague and ambiguous law violates due process and free speech rights in violation of the First and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Implementing Proposition 227

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions ­ Legal analysis by California Rural Legal Assistance, the Association of Mexican American Educators, the California Association for Bilingual Education, and the California Latino Civil Rights Network.

CTA Proposition 227 Workgroup Report

In response to the passage of Proposition 227, CTA convened the Proposition 227 Workgroup in January 1999. CTA's charge to the Workgroup was to develop recommendations that provide guidance to members to ensure that they feel protected and supported, while they continue to deliver the highest quality programs for English Learners within the parameters of Proposition 227. CTA asked the 227 Workgroup members to conduct hearings and make recommendation for immediate action to develop ways to inform and educate CTA members about issues related to the implementation of the requirements advanced by Proposition 227.

Analysis of State Board of Education Emergency Regulations for Proposition 227

Thoughtful analysis of the state Board's proposed regulations by Dr. Jill Kerper Mora from San Diego State University. The provisions are cited directly from the SBE text and followed by commentary.

Federal Court Decision Refusing to Delay the Effective Date of Proposition 227

Full-text copy of Federal Court Decision Refusing to Delay the Effective Date of Proposition 227 by U.S. District Judge Charles A. Legge in San Francisco, July 15, 1998.

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Proposition 227 Information Handbook

San Diego County Office of Education handbook on policy and procedures for implementing Prop 227 in the schools.


California's Bilingual Education Debate: Intergroup Conflict and Patterns of Prejudice

Presentation for the Association of Mexican-American Educators November 12, 1999 San Diego, California by Jill Kerper Mora San Diego State University. A short slide show based on Dr. Kerper Mora's article from the Spring AMAE journal. Included are an abstract of the article and links to related web pages.

Confusion and Obfuscation: The New California Guidelines for Proposition 227

The READ Institute published this report by Jim Littlejohn. The report is a critique of the State Program for English Learners Coordinate Compliance Review Training Guide 2000-2001 issued by the California Department of Education (CDE) that outlines requirements for school districts to comply with 227. In the first pages of the Executive Summary, Littlejohn quotes an unnamed consultant who estimates that 70% of the state's 1000 school districts are not in compliance with 227, 15% are in partial compliance and 15% are in full compliance. The essence of the READ report is that the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is pressuring school districts to water down the 227 requirements for English immersion instruction, with the support of the CDE. Consequently, the state is not carrying out their "responsibility" to English learners.

A Response to the "Obfuscation" Report READ Institute's Complaint Against CDE Proposition 227 Regulations

Professor Kerper Mora suggests that the READ Institute is much more concerned with meeting a "responsibility" to the California electorate, 61% of which passed 227, and lightening the alleged burdens on school districts and teachers than about responsibility to English learners. Dr. Kerper Mora argues that READ decries OCR's "advocacy approach to national civil rights policy related to English learners" through "onerous requirements" on school districts.

The READ Report on Prop. 227: A Transparently Political Document

The READ Institute published a report by Kevin Clark (1999) on five California school districts' implementation of Proposition 227. The stated purpose of the report is to describe the significant issues faced by these districts in dismantling their bilingual programs and establishing immersion programs to conform to the new law. The report also provides a description of the common evaluation design created by the five districts to track students growth in English and to present some preliminary student achievement data. The purpose of this analysis of the READ Institute report is to point out ways in which bilingual education is mischaracterized and used as a straw man to justify actions taken under the Proposition 227. Although administrative decisions regarding program implementation taken by these school districts may be congruent with the law, it is questionable whether these features of the immersion program will produce the desired results long term for language minority students and their parents. This article by Jill Kerper Mora purpose is to defend teacher education from the attacks found throughout this document.

The Campaign Against Proposition 227: A Post Mortem

Comprehensive look at the campaign that was waged against Proposition 227 in California and the ineffective response mounted by bilingual education advocates by author James Crawford. This article appears in the Bilingual Research Journal 21, no. 1. Analysis of California's anti bilingual initiative, February 1999.

"What Now for Bilingual Education?"

This article by James Crawford discusses the state of bilingual education in California in the wake of Proposition 227, and some of the reasons for the referendum's successful passage. From 1998/1999 issue of "Rethinking Schools Online."

Life After 227: The Struggle Continues

The initiative's legal status and practical impact remain unclear. Prop. 227 may never take effect; if it does, the damage may be modest or short lived. Or it could be as devastating as opponents have predicted, disrupting the schooling of millions of children. We simply will not know until the dust settles ­ a process likely to take months, perhaps years. An in depth analysis of the post 227 era by distinguished journalist James Crawford.

An Analysis of Proposition 227

Comprehensive analysis of the post 227 era presented in a multimedia slide show by San Diego State University Professor Jill Kerper Mora.

Four Part Series on Post 227 Perspectives by J. Gumz in The Santa Cruz Sentinel

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Structured English Immersion in California -- NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports from Los Angeles on the fallout from the defeat of Proposition 227 in California, eliminating bilingual education. There are no standard guidelines for what is called "structured English immersion," and some parents and teachers of non-English speaking children say the quality of education is suffering. Educators' interpretations of initiative vary widely; some resistance continues, while Unz threatens to sue and "force them into bankruptcy. (Requires free "Real Audio" software)

Bilingual Education in Tuscon -- NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports on efforts in Tucson, Arizona to do away with the state's bilingual education system. Arizona has about 90,000 students enrolled in bilingual programs, but some parents and teachers don't think the system is effective and have organized a campaign modeled after California's Prop. 227 to put the future of bilingual education to a referendum vote. (Requires free "Real Audio" software)

California Bilingual -- California's new bilingual education regulations officially took affect August 3, 1998. A newly-passed voter initiative, Proposition 227, puts strict limits on the length of time that children in the state's schools may receive assistance in their native language. Although most schools won't begin classes until September, year round schools will have to implement the new law today. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports. (Requires free "RealAudio" software)

Colorado Bilingual -- In Denver, the debate over bilingual education has taken a radically different tack than in California. After complaints by parents, the federal government may take the city to court for failing to provide adequate bilingual education. The city program runs for 3 years, but parents want up to 7 years' instruction in kids' native languages. Aaron Schacter reports. (Requires free "RealAudio" software)

NPR's Morning Edition (June 10, 1998) presents "A Student on Bilingual Education" --Annie Tsai, originally from Taiwan, comments on how the loss of bilingual education could affect immigrants living in California now that voters passed an initiative ending the program. Tsai is graduating from high school in Albany, California and will be attending Cornell University in the fall. Her commentary comes from Youth Radio. (Requires free "RealAudio" software)

NPR's Carrie Kahn reports on the victory for opponents of bilingual education "Prop 227 Wins" (June 3, 1998). California public schools will now have about two months to place students either in English-only classes or in accelerated English-language instruction. Some Hispanic civil rights groups filed suit claiming the just-approved measure is unconstitutional. (Requires free "RealAudio" software)

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. May 2 -- Proposition 227, the 1998 California ballot initiative that ended most bilingual education programs in the state, has made instruction for English- language learners even more inconsistent than it was before, University of California researchers conclude in a study released last week. "A serious problem has been made worse," the authors argue in a paper published by the Linguistic Minority Research Institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara, based on a study of 16 California districts during the first year after Proposition 227's passage. "Wise education policy would address the problem of inconsistency of instruction before imposing top-down mandates that have the effect of increasing variation in practice." Collectively, the effects of Proposition 227 have contributed to "massive inconsistency in instruction for children," Patricia Gándara, a professor of education at the University of California, Davis, and the lead researcher for the study, said in an interview last week.(Education Week)

Read "The Initial Impact of Proposition 227 on the Instruction of English Learners" online, from the Linguistic Minority Research Institute of the University of California. (HTML version)

Click here for a full version of "The Initial Impact of Proposition 227 on the Instruction of English Learners" in PDF format.

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WASHINGTON, April 7 -- Linda Chavez, Chairman of One Nation Indivisible, announced today in Denver that ONI is supporting efforts to put an English Education initiative on Colorado's 2000 ballot this fall. The initiative is sponsored by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), retired University of Colorado Spanish professor Charles King, and retired Denver businessman Joe F. Chavez. The initiative will require that the state's public schools teach non-English speaking students in structured English-immersion classes. It is similar to a California ballot initiative that passed overwhelmingly in 1998. (One Nation Indivisible)

SAN JOSE, Calif. February 9 -- When voters approved Proposition 227, which eliminated bilingual education in California schools, the measure included transitional funding for programs to teach parents to help their school-age children with English. School districts, with funding based on the number of limited-English-proficient students they serve, were left to design their own programs. The Pajaro Valley district chose to train parents to give extra support to their Spanish-speaking children in English-only classes. It has plans to expand the program into qualifying schools. The Pajaro Valley district received $668,000 to set up and operate the Community Based English Tutoring Resource Center during its first year. Administrators anticipate they will receive $334,000 annually for the next nine years to keep it running. (San Jose Mercury News)

BOSTON, January 13 -- BOSTON (AP) The California millionaire who led the drive to end bilingual education in that state said he'd be glad to help put a question on the ballot doing the same in Massachusetts. Ron Unz, who contributed $750,000 of his own money to get a similar question passed in California, said his help in Massachusetts could include contributing money. ''I've made no specific commitment, but it's certainly possible I might help out with something like that. And I certainly would try to find other people who would get involved in such an effort,'' he said Thursday. Unz appeared Tuesday with Sen. Guy Glodis, D-Worcester, at a news conference where Glodis proposed to replace the state's transitional bilingual education program with a new program similar to the California ''immersion'' program passed in 1998. (Boston Globe)

VENTURA, Calif. January 11 -- At a time when public officials and voters want schools to move limited-English students into regular classes in one to three years, a new study shows most students don't learn the language that fast. The Stanford University study found that it takes four to seven years for students to become academically proficient in English -- that is to succeed on their own in regular classes. Educators say the study of more than 3,000 students in the United States and Canada merely confirms what they already knew from past research and their own experience. Russell W. Rumberger, who analyzed the Stanford study for the University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute, said the results suggest that the one-year limit set by Proposition 227 is "wildly unrealistic." Rumberger said the study shows that children need more time to learn English, whether they are taught in bilingual classes or with English programs. (Ventura County Star)

OXNARD, Calif. December 30 -- The Oxnard Elementary School District is one of 12 districts that has been selected by a team of University of California researchers who have applied for funds to study what helps and hurts Spanish-speaking students in their efforts to learn English. The researchers, who applied for $5 million in federal funding, want to determine the best way to teach English to Spanish-speaking children. If the funding is approved, the team plans to conduct its research in 36 schools throughout the state, working with 120 teachers and 2,800 students. California educators say the study is especially important now, as school administrators continue to grapple with Proposition 227 and as teachers prepare their students for English proficiency tests and the newly adopted state standards. "We need long-term studies of these kids," said Russell Rumberger, director of the UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute. "It seems like Spanish-speaking kids have traditionally had more problems learning English than other kids. That may not be true, but that's the perception." (Los Angeles Times)

SAN JOSE, December 26 -- Proposition 227 has created a paradox in California schools: Early test scores -- including a statewide analysis by the Mercury News -- suggest that students who speak little or no English are learning more in English-only classes. While some teachers are heartened by that, many others fear that so-called ``English learners'' are being set up for future failure as they struggle to grasp the meaning of words or complex concepts. (San Jose Mercury News)

SAN FRANCISCO, December 22 -- The state Supreme Court refused Tuesday to consider letting entire school districts keep bilingual education programs that were spurned by state voters last year. The justices unanimously denied review of an appellate ruling in favor of the state Board of Education, which had refused to consider school districts' requests for waivers from Proposition 227. The appellate court said such waivers would undermine the ballot measure, which was intended to dismantle bilingual programs. The ruling is binding on trial courts statewide and can be overridden only by another appellate court, if a new case arises. Sacramento Bee)

MODESTO, Calif. October 12 -- Gregorio Rodriguez used to enjoy going to school. In first grade, he went off to Marshall School happy each morning. He was getting good grades. "He was able to do his tasks," said his mother, Guadalupe Rodriguez, speaking through a translator. "I was able to help him with his homework." But now Gregorio struggles, and his mother struggles to help him. After a year in a bilingual class, where he was taught mostly in Spanish, he's now in a second-grade class where his teacher uses mostly English. Proposition 227, which became law in California in August 1998, did away with bilingual education. English learners are now placed in special English immersion classes -- taught almost exclusively in English -- unless their school districts approve parental waivers. Rodriguez got waiver approval for her son to be returned to a bilingual class. But when the school year began in July, Gregorio and close to 20 other first- and second-graders who received waivers were placed in an English immersion class because bilingual classes at that grade level were full. (Modesto Bee)

SACRAMENTO, October 6 -- Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ron Unz, who wrote a successful 1998 ballot initiative banning bilingual education in California, announced he will challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein for re-election. The Republican Unz, 38, is the most prominent statewide figure to challenge Feinstein so far. But Feinstein, with more than $2 million in the bank, high popularity in voter polls and a tested campaign operation, is considered a formidable candidate in 2000. In his announcement Tuesday, Unz said he would spend $6 million or less on the primary campaign - a significant amount of which would come from his own bank account. The figure is the spending limit contained in a March 2000 campaign financing ballot measure Unz is sponsoring. (San Francisco Examiner)


Visit the CMMR Archives on the Proposition 227 Campaign

This comprehensive link provides information on the initiative provided by the Center for Multilingual, Multicultural Research. Sampling of news articles collected from newspapers, periodicals and other media sources through election day that discuss the pros and cons of the California anti Bilingual Education Initiative. An assortment of links from various organizations, and a mutlitmedia review of the controversial initiative.