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Attack on Bilingual Ed Hasn't Spelled Success

April 07, 2004

Re "The Long Road to Fluency," editorial, April 3: Let's remember the Proposition 227 campaign promises and do the math. An 18% increase in English learning in three years equates to an "exit rate" of 6% annually. Ron Unz, who drafted the proposition, claimed that the 6% exit rate before Proposition 227 meant that bilingual education, in which only 30% of all English-language learners were enrolled, had a 94% failure rate. Now that only 12% of all ELL students are in bilingual programs and the exit rate is still 6%, The Times claims that Proposition 227 has achieved the goal of increasing English learning.

In reality, all of the campaign rhetoric and linguistic theories behind Proposition 227 have been proved wrong. Bilingual learners are not entering the mainstream after a year of "transition" and are not learning English any faster than they were before. Meanwhile, Proposition 227's mean-spirited provisions for lawsuits against bilingual teachers and the restrictions on parents' access to effective bilingual programs have taken their toll. The "magic bullet" of Proposition 227 is a blank.

Jill Kerper Mora

Associate Professor

of Teacher Education

San Diego State

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