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 - Present

Laws and Important Information

Ohio passes the first law to officially allow Bilingual Education in schools.


The Nationality Act


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


Extended protection of the Constitution to everyday speech and prohibited coercive language restriction on the part of the states; changed public attitudes toward learning in other languages

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.

Rebirth of Bilingual Education


Cuban immigrants fleeing their country, requested bilingual schooling for their children. First program was open to both English and Spanish speakers at Coral Way Elementary School

Title VI of Civil Rights Act


Set minimum standard for education on any student by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin of federally assisted program NCELA

Bilingual Education Act


First federal law relating to bilingual education. Authorized $7.5 million to finance 76 projects serving 26,000 children. Supported education programs, train teachers and aides, develop instructional materials and encourage parental involvement.

Serna v. Portales Municipal Schools


First case in which federal courts began to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Lau v. Nichols


Supreme Court ruled: There is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers and curriculum for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.



No state can deny education to an individual because of their race, color, sex or national origin

Rios v. Read


Federal Court decision that a NY school district violated the rights of English learners. Were not giving them any cultural components.

English-as-Official-Language Movement


Goal was to adopt a constitutional amendment to make English the official language of the US.

Idaho Migrant Council v. Board of Education


mandated state agencies are empowered to supervise the implementation of federal EEOA requirements at local level.

Castaneda v. Pickard


tested the EEOA statute. The Fifth Circuit Court outlined 3 criteria for programs serving ELs. 1. "sound educational theory" 2. "implemented effectively" 3. evaluated as effective in overcoming language barriers.

Official Language


No Child Left Behind Act of 2001


Reauthorization to Elementary and Secondary Education Act by President Bust Jan 8, 2002