History of Bilingual Education in the United States

Education Trends

Permissive period

1700 - 1880

Restrictive Period

1880 - 1960

Opportunist Period

1960 - 1980

Dismissive Period

1980 - 2050

Pre- Civil Rights Movement

The Nationality Act (Texas)


Required immigrants to speak English in order to begin the process of becoming naturalized, legitimized the use of language as a mode of exclusion and discrimination.

Meyer v. Nebraska


Forbidding the teaching in school of any language other than English until the pupil has passed the eighth grade violates the 14th Amendment that guarantees liberty.

Pierce v. Society of Sisters


Court invalidated an Oregon Law that had compelled attendance at public schools. Therefore, one can attend private schools.

Mo Hock Ke Lok Po v. Stainback


Parents have the right to have their children taught in a foreign language.

Civil Rights Movements Lead to Change

Brown Case


U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school segregation based on race was unconstitutional. Although it did not specifically mention Hispanics or other ethnic minorities, the ruling stated that it applied also to others similarly situated. It introduced a new era in American civil rights and led the way to subsequent legislation that would create programs for the disadvantaged.

Civil Rights Act


Stated the concept of equality in federal law. Several parts of the Act were significant for language minority students. An example Title VI of the Act provided that any person participating in any program receiving federal financial
assistance could not be discriminated against on the basis of race or national origin.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act


An emphasis on equality led to this act in which Title I of the ESEA provided assistance to educational agencies for children of low
income families.

Bilingual Education

Start of change in bilingual education


In 1967, Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas introduced a bill which proposed to provide assistance to school districts in establishing educational programs specifically for LESA students.(Limited English Speaking Ability)

Title VII or the Bilingual Education Act of 1968


The first federal recognition that LESA students have special educational needs and that in the interest of equal educational opportunity, bilingual programs that address those needs should be federally funded.
It also began the process of formally recognizing that ethnic minorities could seek differentiated services for reasons other
than segregation or racial discrimination.

Provisions: Grants were given to provide
1)resources for educational programs
2)training for teachers and teacher aides.
3)development and dissemination of materials
4)parent involvement projects

The Act did not explicitly require bilingual instruction or the use of the students' native language for educational purposes, but encouraged innovative programs designed to teach the students English. The Act also placed priority on low income families; non-English-speaking students from families with
moderate income levels were not included.

1974 Amendments to the Bilingual Education

Congress amended the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 to clarify the intent and design of programs for LESA students.
The 1974 Act specified the following:
1)the definition of a bilingual education program;
2) program goals;
3) regional support centers; and
4) capacity-building efforts.

Lau v. Nichols


This case was a class- action suit brought against the San Francisco school district, alleging that 1,800 Chinese students were being denied an equal education because of their limited English skills.

The Supreme Court overruled the lower courts, arguing that the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curricula do not constitute equal education.

They ruled that no student shall be denied "equal access" to any academic program due, due to "limited English proficiency."

Equal Education Opportunity Act


Title II of the Educational Amendments Act of 1974, the Equal Educational Opportunity Act, also affected the education of LESA students by specifically mentioning that language barriers were to be overcome by instructional programs. This Act effectively extended the Lau ruling to all students and
school districts, not only to those receiving federal funds. School districts were required to have special programs for LESA students regardless of federal or state funding.

1978 Amendments to the Bilingual Education Act

Expanded the eligibility for bilingual programs from those who were students of limited English speaking ability to those who were of "limited English proficiency"

In addition, the amendments specified the goals of transitional bilingual education programs. Such programs were to prepare limited English proficient students to enter the regular classroom as quickly as possible. The native language was to be used only to the extent necessary for students to become proficient in English.

1975 Lau Remedies


To comply with the Lau v. Nichols ruling the HEW Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a set of guidelines.These guidelines served two primary purposes: to determine whether a school district was in compliance with the law and to provide guidance in the development of adequate educational plans aimed at correcting civil rights violations.


Addressed the need for increased flexibility in the implementation of programs for LEP students by giving local school districts a greater voice in deciding how LEP students should be taught. School districts were able to apply for funds for different types of programs that used various teaching strategies.Withdraw of the Lau Remedies.

Provisions of Bilingual Education Act of 1984


Under the 1984 Amendments, grants were awarded for several types of special programs for LEP students including:
1. transitional bilingual education programs, in which structured English language instruction is combined with a native language component and up to 40 percent of the class may be non-LEPstudents;
2. developmental bilingual education programs, in which full-time instruction is given in both English and a second language with the goal of achieving competence in both English and a
second language;
3. special alternative instructional programs in which the native language need not be used, but English language instruction and special instructional services are given to facilitate achievement of English competency.

The Amendments also stipulated that parents or guardians take a greater role in the education of LEP students. The schools were to explain why their child was selected for a Title VII program and inform them about available alternatives. The parents or guardians were also to be informed of their right to
decline enrollment in any of the Title VII programs and accept enrollment in mainstream classes.

Senator S.I. Hayakawa

Senator S.I. Hayakawa


Introduced a constitutional amendment that made English the sole official language of the United States.

Legislative Organization


Hayakawa founds "U.S. English", a legislative organization.

Official Language


twenty-five states had made English their official language.

1988 Bilingual Education Act

This Act includes several changes from previous
reauthorizations that reflect the current emphasis on the diversity of LEP students and approaches to their

The Bilingual Education Initiative


was to increase flexibility in federal programs for LEP students to enable local school district to determine the best method of teaching LEP students. It went beyond the 1984 Amendments in (1) suggesting that school districts have the discretion to determine the extent of native language instruction required for special programs for LEP students, (2) calling for extensive parental involvement by requiring that parents or guardians be placed on advisory councils that were mandated for each school district, and (3) requiring school districts to demonstrate local capacity building to continue special programs without federal funds. Also, it clearly stated that the goal of programs
for LEP students was the rapid acquisition of fluency in English.

Provisions of the 1988 Bilingual Education Act


In addition, there is a three-year limit on a student's participation in a transitional bilingual education program or in special alternative instructional programs. Under special circumstances, a student may continue in a program for up to two additional years.

Ron Unz's Proposition 227 (California)

Was passed in 1998, but is still debated today.
Peaked people's interest in bilingual education.
Passage was a significant event in California 's educational history.

State initiative in Utah promotes English-only laws in the state government.


Proposition 203 passed in Arizona


Similar to proposition 227 in California. Eliminates teaching students in any other language besides English.

The Colorado English for the Children Initiative


Similar to proposition 227 in California and proposition 203 in Arizona. Eliminated bilingual education in Colorado's public schools.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Signed into law by President Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Teacher Qualifications


By the end of the 2005-06 school year, every teacher in core content areas working in a public school had to be "highly qualified" in each subject he or she taught. Under the law, "highly qualified" generally meant that a teacher was certified and demonstrably proficient in his or her subject matter.

Annual Testing


By the 2005-06 school year, states were required to begin testing students in grades 3-8 annually in reading and mathematics. By 2007-08, they had to tests students in science at least once in elementary, middle, and high school. The tests had to be aligned with state academic standards.

Academic Progress


States were required to bring all students up to the "proficient" level on state tests by the 2013-14 school year. Individual schools had to meet state "adequate yearly progress" targets toward this goal (based on a formula spelled out in the law) for both their student populations as a whole and for certain demographic subgroups. If a school receiving federal Title I funding failed to meet the target two years in a row, it would be provided technical assistance and its students would be offered a choice of other public schools to attend.



Particularly concerning its rules surrounding adequate yearly progress and the goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2013-14. Traditionally high-performing schools made headlines as they failed to meet their set rates of improvement, and states saw increasingly high rates of failure to meet the rising benchmarks. By 2010, 38 percent of schools were failing to make adequate yearly progress, up from 29 percent in 2006.

Supposed Future Changes


Education Secretary Arne Duncan launched a $5 billion proposal "Race to the Top" aimed at improving the teaching profession at every level.“Our goal is to support teachers in rebuilding their profession – and to elevate the teacher voice in shaping federal, state, and local education policy,”

Future Statistics

Latino Population


Latino's have already surpassed African Americans as the nation's largest minority, and they are expected to make up to 25 percent of the total population of the country by 2050.