Bilingual Education Timeline


1st state adopts bilingual education law

Approx. 1839

Ohio makes German-English instruction available at parents' request.

Louisiana provides bilingual education



New Mexico Territory passes bilingual provision



CA law requiring English-only instruction passes


4% of American children receiving part or all instruction in German


(approximately 400,000 students)

12 states have passed bilingual education at this point


(Norwegian, Italian, Polish, Czech & Cherokee)

Majority of states pass English-only instruction laws

1914 - 1918

Fear during WWI regarding the loyalty of non-English speakers prompted these shifts; some states even banned the study of foreign languages (this last was declared unconstitutional in 1923).

California SB 53


Governor Ronald Reagan signs bill overturning 1872 law - allows use of languages other than English for instruction in public schools in California.

Federal Bilingual Education Act


Provides federal funding to encourage local districts to try native-language instruction (many did).

Lau v. Nichols


San Francisco school district is sued over unequal instruction/education for Chinese speaking student: "Basic English skills are at the very core of what public schools teach. Imposition of a requirement that, before a child can effectively participate in the educational program, he must already have acquired those basic skills is to make a mockery of public education."

California's Chacon-Moscone Bilingual-Bicultural Education Act


California law establishes programs for LEP students using federal guidelines for identification, placement and reclassification as FEP.

California Bilingual Education Act


Strengthens previous legislation requiring school districts to provide programs for language minority students.

Castaneda v. Pickard


Requires "appropriate action to overcome language barriers" and sets standard for Limited English Proficient (LEP) students. School districts must have a plan, qualified staff, and a system to evaluate for efficacy.

Changes in California

1986 - 1987

Governor Deukmejian vetoes bill to extend bilingual education law (AB 2813) TWICE, allowing it to expire. Sunset provisions go into effect and districts continue to enforce Chacon-Moscone without a clear mandate to do so.

Illinois v. Gomez


State responsibilities for language remediation programs and requirements for redesignation of LEP to FEP (Limited to Fluent English Proficient) are laid out.

Quiroz et al. v. California State Board of Education

1997 - 1998

Orange Unified School District sued by plaintiffs claiming LEP student rights were violated by district waivers for English-only instruction. Judge ruled that the state could not grant waivers, but also that they were not required to provide bilingual education under CA law (only federal requirements for language minority children applied).

California Proposition 227


Virtually banned bilingual education in California (special conditions allow for one-year "sheltered immersion").

California redesignation change


California Board of Education eliminates criteria for redesignation; school districts now create their own criteria to move students from LEP to FEP.

California Escutia Bill


California Board of Education adopts ELD standards related to content standards. An ELD test, linked to standards, is developed.

Arizona Ethnic Studies law


AZ passes law against teaching Ethnic Studies in elementary and secondary schools; many minority students protest.