About one in five public school students in California is an English Language Learner. So, is it outdated to still believe that public schools should teach in English?
Prop 58 looks to reverse a previous voter mandate that says all schools must teach in English, even to English Language Learners. That’s Prop 227, which passed almost 20 years ago. So if voters pass Prop 58 this year, it would mean that schools would be able to teach English Language Learners certain subjects in their native language. And it would change something else: schools looking to create more language immersion programs could do so without making parents sign waivers first, which they have to do now.
Supporters of Prop 58 include the California Teacher’s Association, SEIU Local 2015, and the Association of California School Administrators. They say English Language Learners should be taught in whatever language is most helpful, and Prop 58 will allow districts to keep up with an increasingly international student body. Proponents have raised over two million dollars in support of the measure.
But opponents, including Republicans and Libertarians, say the state should keep things the way they are. They say it's easier to learn English in a fully English-speaking environment. And since Prop 227 was passed, state standardized test scores have improved.
The state controller has said there would be no extra financial burden on schools if this measure is passed; any extra cost for materials would come from the state’s education budget.
If you think California schools should be able to teach in languages other than English, vote "yes" on Prop 58. But if you think schools should keep teaching the way they are, English only, vote "no."
Citizen respondents to KALW's elections call-out contributed to this post. Our call-outs are part of our community reporting project.