September 28, 2016

Bilingual ed on the ballot: Panel will examine Prop 58’s impact on schools

What Do You Need to Know about Proposition 58?

A Timely Panel Considers the Realities of Bilingual Education in California Schools

In November, when California voters go to the polls, they will find a long list of ballot initiatives—17, to be exact—in addition to the presidency and other local, state, and national offices.

The long list of initiatives includes repealing the death penalty (62), background checks for ammunition purchases (63), increasing the cigarette tax (56) and much more.

One of the most charged items on this list is Proposition 58, an initiative regarding bilingual education in public schools.

Many voters may think the issue of bilingual education was settled long ago with the passage of Prop 227 in 1998. But proponents of Prop 58 argue that the new ballot initiative revisits Prop 227 and creates critical new opportunities in California schools for many English learners.

Proposition 227 “significantly restricted language instruction for EL student populations,” explains Michelle Soto-Pena, a doctoral student in the School of Educational Studies. “I hope we can highlight empirical research that examines the cognitive benefits of dual language instruction as well as clarify any misconceptions the public may have about multilingual instruction.”

Soto-Pena will participate in an upcoming panel event, “Proposition 58 and Bilingual Education in California’s Public Schools: How Can Research Inform This Debate?”

Sponsored by SES’s Urban Leadership PhD program, the October 8 panel event in the university’s Albrecht Auditorium will also include the following SES faculty and alumni:

Claudia Bermudez, PhD: Post-doctoral Fellow, School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University; Urban Leadership PhD Alumna

Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, PhD: Professor and Department Chair of Dual Language and English Learner Education, San Diego State University; Professor, CGU-SDSU joint doctoral program; Former Director, English Learner Support Division, California Department of Education

Thomas Luschei, PhD: Associate Professor, School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University; Co-Director, CGU Urban Leadership PhD Program

William Pérez, PhD: Associate Professor, School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University

The key to this event—and to people’s understanding—is a single word: Research.

For Luschei, who will moderate the panel and co-directs the Urban Leadership PhD program with Kyo Yamashiro, research is essential to the Proposition 58 debate.

“Bringing research to bear on this debate is critical because debates around language and culture are often driven by emotional arguments that are not based on any actual evidence,” he says. “We are holding this event so that the public can make research-informed debates about an issue that will influence children’s academic success in our state for years to come.”

Often, Luschei points out, when proponents and opponents engage on this issue, research about bilingualism and cognitive outcomes rarely comes up.

Pérez agrees. In fact, he says, many misunderstandings arise in the absence of data. Take the term “bilingual,” for instance. In the case of his research, Pérez says, he has found that the term “multilingual” is even more applicable to the situation facing many English learners in the state.

“Through my research with indigenous Mexican immigrants I’ve come to learn about the linguistic diversity of Mexican-origin families,” he explains. “The home language is not only Spanish but also one of the 62 indigenous languages spoken in Mexico including Zapotec, Mixtec, and Purepecha. Proposition 58 could help to revitalize the more than 200 languages other than English spoken by half of all Californians and enhance the linguistic and cultural diversity of our state.”

RSVP here to reserve your place for this important event!

Proposition 58 and Bilingual Education in California’s Public Schools:

How can research inform this debate?

Saturday, October 8, 2016
10:00 a.m.—Noon
Albrecht Auditorium
150 E Tenth Street
Claremont, CA, 91711