Proposition 58 Seeks to Restore Bilingual Education in California

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First-grade teacher April Alonzo-Soto does content-based chants with her class at Parkview Elementary in El Monte. The school uses a curriculum that incorporates literature, social studies and science to help students learn English. (Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Ricardo Lara was in college when California voters approved a law that required public school students to speak and learn only in English. It was a debate, the now-state-senator remembers, that was tainted with racial undertones.

“There was a lot of shame cast on us,” said Lara (D-Bell Gardens). “There was a clear sentiment that we were somehow different and un-American because we were Spanish speakers.”

For the children of Mexican immigrants such as him, who had gone through bilingual education programs and valued their immersion in two languages and cultures, Lara said it was upsetting.

Now on the Nov. 8 ballot, almost two decades later, is a measure that seeks to overhaul that law. Proposition 58, the product of 2014 legislation written by Lara, would repeal English-only instruction in public schools, giving local parents and teachers the control to develop their own multilingual programs.

Click here to read the full story on LATimes.com.