The fight for bilingual education


"The greatest barrier to the Mexican-American child's scholastic that the schools, reflecting the dominant culture, want the child to grow up as another Anglo. This he cannot do except by denying himself and his family and his forebears, a form of masochism which no society should demand of its children." —A. Bruce Gaarder, specialist in foreign languages with the U.S. Office of Education, El Paso, Texas, November 13, 19651

ONE OF the most urgent—and misunderstood—issues facing U.S. public education today is meeting the needs of students who are not yet proficient in the English language. The quote above comes from The Invisible Minority, a 1966 report by the National Education Association task force on education in the Southwest. This study intersected with the struggle for Chicano civil rights that would lead to the passage of the Bilingual Education Act (BEA) of 1968. The BEA represented one of the most significant advances in the education of “emergent bilingual”2 students in two ways. It consolidated the gains in bilingual and bicultural programs that were fought for, often school-by-school, in the Southwest and West. Additionally, as part of official federal educational policy, the BEA legitimized what educators and activists had known for some time, namely that students learning English had specific educational rights, including the right to be educated in their home language. Hardly had the ink dried on the BEA, however, when attacks on the legitimacy of bilingual education began. That the quote above still applies to the vast majority of schools highlights how far the clock has been turned back on the gains made in bilingual-bicultural education in the late sixties and early seventies.

To be sure, plenty of educational and linguistic research has deepened our understanding of how children learn languages and which classroom practices aid that process. Likewise, much is known about which educational policies support language learning and which policies thwart it. However, the education of emergent bilingual students remains misunderstood in large part because so little attention is paid to how past movements against racism and for immigrant rights have improved the education of all children, but especially of emergent bilingual students. This article reviews the history of this connection. My main argument is that advances (and setbacks) in antiracist and pro-immigrant struggles have had the most significant impact on the academic and linguistic welfare of emergent bilingual students in public schools. While this argument may seem self-evident, the reality today is that those most dedicated to improving the education of emergent bilinguals too often miss the forest for the trees: while effective classroom practices and sympathetic policies matter, they wilt in the face of segregation, racism, and attacks on immigrant rights.

This article presents an overview of the historical connection between struggles against segregation and anti-immigrant racism, and the education of emergent bilingual students. It begins by reviewing the current situation facing emergent bilinguals in schools today. The article continues with a defense of bilingual education based on forty years’ worth of applied linguistic research and on Marxist theories of national oppression and resisting that oppression. It then looks at three historical periods—Americanization at the turn of the twentieth century, the Chicano rights movement of the sixties and seventies, and the rise of the English-only movement from the 1980s onward—in terms of gains and setbacks for language rights at school. The article closes with the potential for turning these setbacks around represented by the new fight for immigrant rights.

Emergent bilinguals and their educational experiences today
While language diversity has always been a feature of public schools in this country, the population of emergent bilinguals has changed dramatically in the last two decades. The most recent analysis of enrollments from pre-school through grade twelve (P-12) reported that in the 2004-05 school year, approximately 5.12 million students were emergent bilinguals, about 10.5 percent of the total P-12 population.3 Moreover, the emergent bilingual population has increased by over 110 percent in the last fifteen years—seven times more rapidly than general P-12 enrollments.4 These averages, of course, mask huge disparities in distribution. Just five states—California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois—were home to 68 percent of all emergent bilinguals, according to the 2000 Census.5 Second, the rate of growth between 1990 and 2000 exceeded 200 percent in six states: Nevada, Nebraska, South Dakota, Georgia, Arkansas, and Oregon.6 This remarkable growth is not simply tied to immigration: the majority of emergent bilinguals at both primary and secondary levels are born in the United States, 77 percent and 56 percent respectively. Finally, the overwhelming majority, between 75 and 80 percent, speak Spanish as the primary language.

Beyond enrollments, however, is the devastating reality of segregation and poverty. The Urban Institute reported in 2005 that 70 percent of emergent bilinguals are concentrated in just 10 percent of schools, usually in urban and poor areas.7 This “super-segregation” meant that in schools with an emergent bilingual population of 25 percent or more (known as “high ELL schools”), 77 percent of students are students of color and more than half are Latino. Moreover, upwards of three-quarters received free and reduced-price lunches, the federal measure of poverty in schools.8 In fact, 75 percent of emergent bilinguals are poor.9

Not only are these super-segregated schools financially poor, but they also have the most poorly trained staff. The Urban Institute report found that only 53 percent of teachers in “high ELL schools” were fully certified, compared to 76 percent in other schools.10 Another study of the 1.2 million teachers (about 43 percent of all teachers) with emergent bilinguals in their classroom found that: only 11 percent were certified in bilingual education, with another 18 percent certified in English as a second language; only 15 percent were fluent in another language; and on average, these teachers received four hours of in-service training for working with emergent bilinguals over the previous five years.11 To be clear: the point here is not to lay the deplorable education of emergent bilinguals at teachers’ feet—although racist attitudes among some teachers exist and matter—but rather to expose an education system that cares so little about the educational and linguistic needs of emergent bilinguals that it doesn’t bother to prepare teachers to work with them.

This crisis is seen still more clearly in the structure and funding of academic programs for emergent bilinguals. A recent American Federation of Teachers report found that fully 60 percent of emergent bilinguals are educated in English-only programs. Of that portion, 12 percent receive no additional support whatsoever in learning English—in most cases in violation of federal law.12 Many policymakers evade this issue by citing the difficulty in comparing programs state-by-state. There may be differences in terminology from one area to the other, but the reality remains that far too many emergent bilinguals are subjected to the most notorious model of all: sink-or-swim. And not surprisingly, too many sink. The 2001 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, more commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), mandates that all high stakes testing be done in English. Obviously, if you don’t understand academic English you’re not going to pass. And far too many emergent bilinguals are allowed to give up and drop out of school altogether. Even a quick glance at funding for language education shows why programs are so lacking. While NCLB increased overall federal support for emergent bilingual education from $200 to $700 million dollars, its testing requirements have resulted in a massive shift toward English-only approaches.13 In addition to federal money, thirty-three states officially provide additional funding for language programs. However, twenty-four of those states do not require these extra funds to be spent on emergent bilinguals specifically. Finally, ten states spend the generous amount of $0 on emergent bilingual education.14

One Arizona court case best captures the criminal neglect of English learners. In 1992, the Flores v. Arizona lawsuit was bought against the school district in the border town of Nogales. The plaintiffs accused the district of allotting too little money and too few qualified staff for emergent bilingual programs. That case has endured an epic odyssey through the state and federal courts ever since. A series of rulings has ordered the state legislature to increase state funding for language education. The Republican-controlled State House and Arizona Department of Education (ADE) have resisted at every step. In response to the most recent ruling, ADE and the legislature promised $40 million more in funding—a mere $250 per student—if schools implemented a new model called Structured English Immersion. Under this model, all emergent bilinguals are segregated from the mainstream population for four hours a day—two-thirds of the typical school day—and “submersed” in English-only, grammar-based instruction in reading, writing, and oral skills. The latest court challenge was successful in declaring the funding for this reactionary model insufficient. But ADE appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard the case but returned it last June to the lower courts, leaving the central issues in legal limbo.

Bilingualism and bilingual education
This shift back to English-only approaches to educating emergent bilinguals flies in the face of over forty years’ worth of applied linguistic research on the benefits of bilingualism and bilingual education. Certainly, some English-only proponents, such as Kevin Clark, attempt to dress up their arguments with “science.”15 However, as renowned applied linguists Stephen Krashen, Kellie Rolstad, and Jeff MacSwan have shown, such arguments are based on turning the research on its head, if not also by telling outright lies.16 To be sure, there are important debates in applied linguistics about how best to foster multilingualism: at what age, what sort of models and materials, etc. Nevertheless, the balance of research is irrefutable in terms of the benefits of bilingualism and bilingual education.

Not only do bilinguals have access to the various cultures associated with the languages they speak, but also their language skills tend to lead to greater appreciation of human diversity. This is related to the ability for communicative sensitivity. By understanding that there are multiple ways to say similar things, bilinguals have been shown to be more sensitive to the needs of the person(s) interacting with them. Moreover, bilinguals have been shown to be more flexible in their thinking and more adept at thinking about how they use language to get their point across. Additionally, bilinguals have been shown to be more effective at creative and divergent thinking. Finally, the research is unequivocal that literacy in the first language makes learning a second language—and becoming literate in that language—much easier. In fact, once a second language is learned, bilinguals often are able to learn additional languages more easily. Taken together, these findings in the research are often boiled down to claiming that bilinguals are “smarter.” This is not really provable, but is tied to the fact that bilinguals tend to outperform monolinguals on standardized testing, whatever the faults of such testing may be.17

Even if we accept that bilingualism is beneficial, bilingual education is much more controversial. In fact, there are many models of bilingual education.18 The predominant model in the U.S. since the 1960s has been transitional bilingual education. This model is based on the finding just discussed, that children learn a second language more effectively when they are literate in their first language. Therefore, transitional models often target students in the early grades, generally K-3, and use the home language to learn English more effectively. Typically, the home language is used in the early grades 90 percent of the time and English for 10 percent of the time. By grade three, those ratios are reversed, and students then progress to English-only classrooms thereafter. This approach to English language learning has as its goal English language acquisition, not developing the home language. In practice, these models are meant only for language minority students. As such, they are predicated on a deficit model, that is, that non-English proficiency is a problem to remediate through temporary bilingual education.

By contrast, maintenance or developmental models, as their names suggest, are based on maintaining proficiency (and developing literacy) in the home language while developing proficiency and literacy in a second language. Such models are often known as dual language or two-way language classrooms. Not only are the goals of these programs different from transitional models in terms of maintaining and expanding the home language, but these classrooms integrate English monolingual students learning a second language with language minority students learning English, each group learning from the other.

Of course, there are long-standing elite programs in bilingual education as well. Such programs are often set up in private schools, or as magnet programs within public systems, and target English monolinguals as their main audience. These programs speak to the schizophrenic nature of language education in the United States. “Foreign language” education, i.e. English monolinguals learning additional languages at school whether through bilingual models or not, has existed for over 100 years as a gatekeeping project to get into university. From its first days in an expanding secondary school system at the turn of the twentieth century through today, successful “foreign language” education is often a function of middle- or ruling-class status and considered an elite project for the college-bound.19 Students who enter school, however, already fluent in a non-English language, are construed as a problem, at times even an outright threat. The balance of the twelve years of schooling functions to rob students of their language and replace it with academic English.

Objections to bilingual education take on several forms and express many myths—sometimes argued by parents of emergent bilinguals themselves. For example, exposing children to too many languages at once will confuse them; learning more than one language means that no language is learned well; children will only learn the minority language, and not English, and thus lead to social isolation or thwart upward mobility, etc. Some of these myths are based on genuine confusion about language learning. More of them are based on political arguments against the speakers of non-English languages. I’ll address the second point later. For now, however, it is important to underscore that no recent research comparing English-only versus bilingual models has found English-only approaches to be more effective at teaching English. In fact, most program model comparisons have shown bilingual models to be more effective for acquisition of English. Moreover, no accepted body of research recognizes the validity of teaching language by reducing the language to specific aspects of grammar, which is the model in Arizona discussed in the previous section.20

The Marxist case for language rights
The central argument of this article is that applied linguistic and educational research has been unable to explain or turn around the attacks on bilingual education since the 1960s. Meeting the linguistic and educational needs of emergent bilinguals is a political question that requires political clarity on the issues. Marxist theories of national oppression and strategies to fight that oppression not only best explain the attacks on bilingual education, but also offer the most effective way forward. The starting point of these theories is a central contradiction that Lenin identified in 1913:

Developing capitalism knows two historical tendencies in the national question. The first is the awakening of national life and national movements, the struggle against all national oppression, and the creation of national states. The second is the development and growing frequency of international intercourse in every form, the breakdown of national barriers, the creation of the international unity of capital, of economic life in general, of politics, science, etc.

Both tendencies are a universal law of capitalism. The former predominates in the beginning of its development, the latter characterizes a mature capitalism…. The Marxists’ national program takes both tendencies into account, and advocates, firstly, the equality of all nations and languages and the impermissibility of all privileges in this respect…; secondly, the principle of internationalism and uncompromising struggle against contamination of the proletariat with bourgeois nationalism even of the most refined kind.21

How this contradiction expresses itself varies over time and context—the First World War broke out, for example, shortly after Lenin made the argument. But this contradiction flows from the modern nation-state and its need to unify markets through development of a material and social infrastructure. In material terms, the state has served to pool resources to ensure successful capitalist development at the national level. In social terms, one consequence of the modern nation-state has been the invention and imposition of standardized national languages. In fact, the expectation that people are—or should be—monolingual is a completely modern phenomenon.

Under capitalism there exists a formula that runs something like: one nation equals one state equals one people equals one language and one culture. Despite this formula, monolingualism not only fails to accurately describe past societies, but it also bears no resemblance to most societies on Earth today. In fact, it is more likely the case that the majority of the world’s population grows up and lives as multilinguals, adept at navigating home languages, community languages, school languages, and official languages used in government, the media, and business with varying levels of fluency. In other words, monolinguals are in the minority.

Nevertheless, the French Revolution of 1789 is often raised as the primary example of how this formula was first put into practice. At the time of the revolution, a scant 4-5 percent of the population spoke the language that today we know as French.22 That language, based on a Parisian dialect, was imposed—primarily through schooling—on populations that spoke languages nothing like French, and who lived in regions from Brittany to the Pyrenees. Historian Eric Hobsbawm suggests the importance of the newly invented French language for the revolution: “There is little doubt that for most Jacobins a Frenchman who did not speak French was suspect.”23 At issue was not whether the new French citizen spoke “French” natively, but rather if the citizen was willing to learn it as an active member of this new society.

Particularly for European nation-states that emerged later in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, defining the nation in terms of language required reaching far back into the past to cobble together a standardized, homogenized, and modernized language for contemporary use. This construction often came after the formation of the state, as was the case in Italy. Hobsbawm quotes Italian nationalist Massimo d’Azeglio to make the case: “We have made Italy, now it is time to make Italians.”24 An essential part of making Italians was to create Italian, which the Italian ruling class did out of the Tuscan dialect.

The second development in the national question that Lenin argued in the quote above related to imperialism. As capitalism outgrew the narrow boundaries of the nation-state, competition among wealthy nations over the spoils of the rest of the world led to economic, political, cultural, and ultimately military conflict. There were two specific consequences of imperialism in linguistic terms. First, the languages of the aggressor nations were imposed on oppressed nationalities. Second, Western colonizers with limited proficiency in the indigenous languages they encountered described and codified those languages to invent ostensibly timeless divisions between indigenous societies—divisions that those societies had in fact not recognized in the past.25 That legacy persists to this day insofar as language policy in most postcolonial societies considers the language of the former imperial power as official. Beyond prestige, this status generally means that entrance to higher education or government jobs requires advanced proficiency in the colonial language. Even when indigenous languages are deemed official and used as the medium for schooling or in the government, the languages used are the standardized varieties invented through colonization and bear little resemblance to language use in the daily lives of ordinary people.26

In fact, the quote above by Lenin was written in a context in which the many oppressed nationalities in the Russian Empire attempted to resist that oppression. That is, nationalism is not just a weapon of the oppressor but also of the oppressed. The question facing Lenin and the socialist movement generally was how best to fight national oppression as a means to build the greatest multinational unity between workers and oppressed peoples of different nations. The first step in the strategy was to fight for the right for self-determination for oppressed nations. The demand for this right might seem contradictory to the “principle of internationalism” Lenin wrote about. To the contrary, however, internationalism was not possible unless workers of various nations were freely able to unite on an equal basis. Within aggressor nations, challenging nationalism required workers to break with any sort of allegiance to “their” nation and its ruling class. Within oppressed nations, this fight meant supporting the oppressed nation’s fight for independence and freedom.

Lenin’s application of the principle of self-determination to language and schooling is instructive. He rejected the Austrian Marxists’ solution to national oppression, which called in part for the creation of separate schools along national and religious lines in which instruction would be given in the respective national languages. Instead, Lenin insisted on the right for all children to be educated in their home language, but to receive that education in integrated schools. Only in that way could the privileges of one language over another be challenged while at the same time challenging national divisions among the oppressed.

Even as Lenin called for the right to self-determination for oppressed nations, he was equally clear that nationalism mixed different and competing class interests together. He recognized that even bourgeois nationalism in opposition to oppression had a democratic content to it. But the freedom that bourgeois nationalists aspire to is different from, and in fact limits, the freedom that workers of the oppressed nation fight for. “Combat all national oppression?” Lenin asked. “Yes, of course! Fight for any kind of national development, for ‘national culture’ in general?—Of course not.”27 Lenin’s policy was about breaking down national division by demanding full equality, not elevating any nationalism over another. Only by maintaining this distinction could socialists challenge national or linguistic oppression while contributing to the creation of an international culture.

Because Lenin’s approach to fighting national oppression and bourgeois nationalism is based on the contradiction identified at the opening of this section, this meant that each point of conflict has to be assessed on its own terms. Within the Russian Empire’s “prison house of nations,” the fight for self-determination meant a fight for language rights for the various oppressed nationalities. Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, writing twenty years later, used the same theoretical basis to arrive at a different conclusion. As mentioned above, after “making Italy” in 1871, the Italian ruling class consolidated its power by “making Italians.” Part of that project was the creation of a standardized Italian language created in the image and service of the Italian ruling class. In his prison notebooks, Gramsci did not challenge the imposition of a standardized language by defending the multiple dialects spoken across the country. To do so, he argued, would only further isolate and fragment ordinary Italians. Instead, he called for the creation of a popular standardized language, created out of mutual struggle of working class and peasant Italians against their rulers.28 In other words the same theoretical underpinning led to two very different political programs in two distinct historical contexts. This article now turns to review how the issues of nationalism, imperialism, and language rights have applied in the United States at three key historical moments.

The Americanization movement
The last historical period in which schools were as culturally and linguistically diverse as they are today was around the turn of the twentieth century. Although some thirty-five million immigrants entered the country between 1815 and 1915, there was a significant shift in immigration after 1885 as more people migrated from Southern and Eastern Europe. Immigration to the western United States increased at this time as well, as people from Mexico and East Asia relocated in significant numbers.29 Public schools were looked to as institutions that could contribute to the solution of social problems. Supporters of Americanization relied on public schools not only to produce workers equipped with the skills required by an industrial, urban economy, but also to provide a common experience to counter the ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity of immigrant children and turn them into “responsible” citizens.30

There is one myth in particular about this era that is pervasive in contemporary debates about emergent bilingual education. It rests on two points. First, immigrants from this era were all too happy to abandon their home language and culture in the “unfair exchange” for opportunity.31 Second, Latinos today who insist on speaking Spanish are an aberration and thus represent a threat. The reality is that then, just as now, immigrants and their descendents followed the general pattern in which: 1) the immigrant generation learns little English; 2) their children are bilingual; and 3) the third generation is English-dominant.32 When we consider the level of anti-immigrant racism and hostility toward non-English languages in schools at the turn of the twentieth century, it is no wonder that second and third generation students adopted English.

In the West and Southwest, nativist racism led to the establishment of a dual system of segregated schools that prepared some white students for their future role as leaders and owners, while training most Mexican and Asian students for life as workers. One plan to Americanize Mexican Americans in California dates to 1928. The plan identifies “the Mexican element as “the greatest problem confronting Southern California today.” To solve that “problem” the plan calls for segregated schools to educate Mexican American children by teaching English “to replace the Spanish [language] as the medium of use.”33 In addition, boys were to receive instruction in the industrial arts and girls training as “domestic servants.”34 In another revealing example, the San Francisco school board in 1905 reaffirmed its commitment to exclude Japanese and Chinese students from school. Part of the resolution read, “It is the sense of the members of the Board of Education that the admission of children of Japanese or Mongolian descent as pupils to our common schools is contrary to the spirit and the letter of the law and that the co-mingling of such pupils with Caucasian children is baneful and demoralizing in the extreme.”35 An editorial from the November 6, 1906 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle supported the Board’s position, arguing:

[t]here is also the objection to taking the time of the teachers to teach the English language to pupils…. It is a reasonable requirement that all pupils entering the schools shall be familiar with the language in which instruction is conducted. We deny either the legal or moral obligation to teach any foreigner to read or speak the English language. And if we choose to do that for one nationality, as a matter of grace, and not to do the same for another nationality, that is our privilege.36

It is little wonder that a court case against San Francisco schools some sixty-five years later, Lau v. Nichols, would lead to the Supreme Court decision that provided the strongest legal basis to date for bilingual education.

A similar fate greeted Native American children. In the latter half of the nineteenth century the federal government began to establish boarding schools for the education of Native American children. The first of these opened in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1879. Children from various Native nations were purposely schooled together to make communication in their own languages and the maintenance of their cultures more difficult. Children at these schools were physically punished for speaking their native language. Of course, the forcible removal of the children’s language and culture was portrayed as a civilizing mission for the federal government. J. D. C. Atkins, who was the federal commissioner of Indian affairs under the first Grover Cleveland administration, described this project in an 1887 report:

In the difference of language to-day lies two-thirds of our trouble…Schools should be established, which [Native] children should be required to attend; their barbarous dialects should be blotted out and the English language substituted…. The object of greatest solicitude should be to break down the prejudices of tribe among the Indians; to blot out the boundary lines which divide them into distinct nations, and fuse them into one homogenous mass. Uniformity of language will do this—nothing else will.37

As Atkins’ report makes clear, an important goal of Americanization was not just that students acquire English, but that English should replace the home language. As one example, Julia Richman, a New York City school district administrator, was particularly stringent in imposing English at school. Although Richman herself was a German Jew, she forbade Yiddish from the schools she administered and assigned teachers to monitor the lunch hall and playground to enforce the rule, even during breaks.38 In fact, with the outbreak of the First World War, the political dynamics of Americanization shifted to equate learning English not just with adopting English and Anglo-Saxon standards, but instead with loyalty. By contrast, diversity was taught as unpatriotic. Such attitudes culminated in the criminalization of non-English languages across the country. Even before the U.S. entered that war, thousands of parochial English-German bilingual schools were closed, German was stripped from the curriculum in public schools, and in at least two cases, in Nebraska and Iowa, laws were passed making instruction of German illegal.39 Remember, at this time Germans and their descendents were the largest non-Anglo group in the country. In fact, some 600,000 children received at least a portion of their education in German.40 To get a sense of the impact of this anti-immigrant hysteria: not until 1994 did the percentage of children (42.2 percent) studying non-English languages reach the same level as in 1928.41

The Chicano civil rights movement
The Chicano civil rights movement in the 1960s forced a radical shift in the education of emergent bilingual students. A full discussion of the Chicano movement is beyond the scope of this article, but three points of background are necessary. First, the Chicano movement developed in many ways as a rejection of the liberal agenda of assimilation that dominated Mexican-American political groups after the Second World War.42 To be sure, important reforms had already been won and reflected the aims of the assimilationist project: segregation of Mexican-American students was outlawed in 1946 and again in 1948; Mexican-Americans were identified as a protected group in the Fourteenth Amendment; the worst racism in the media had been challenged; and Mexican-Americans began to win more local and state offices. However, persistent segregation, poverty, and racism against Mexican-Americans exposed the limits of these changes, as well as divergent strategies between middle- and working-class Mexican-Americans.43 As Ignacio García describes it: “In their [Chicano activists’] eyes, American institutions, such as the government, schools, churches, and social agencies, had failed. American institutions, as far as activists were concerned, were inherently racist.”44 Earlier goals of cultural and social assimilation, then, were rejected as a political strategy. Rediscovering and renewing Chicano history—including the Spanish language—became a central point of struggle. It is important to recognize that this movement was as much one of Mexican-Americans indigenous to the territories that the U.S. took by conquest in the nineteenth century, as of immigrants and migrant Mexican workers.

Second, the Chicano movement did not take place in isolation. Not only were civil rights struggles in the South and North a major influence on its radicalization, but also the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Cuban Revolution, and other anticolonial struggles in Africa, as well as the impact of student and worker movements in Mexico. Moreover, the gains codified in civil rights, voting rights, and anti-poverty legislation in 1964 and 1965 increased confidence among activists that struggle would bring change and led to higher expectations of what was possible.45 In terms of our knowledge about language learning, U.S. entrance into the Second World War and the post-Sputnik panic of the Cold War led to a dramatic increase in federal support for applied linguistic study of language learning and education. However specious the goals behind that funding were, one important outcome was better understanding of the benefits of bilingualism.46

Third, Chicano struggles over schooling were central to the movement.47 Considering the schooling conditions Mexican-American children faced, it is no wonder why. Although segregation of Mexican-American students was outlawed de jure—eight years before Brown v. Board of Education—it was de facto the norm. In 1960, only 13 percent of Mexican-American students held a high school diploma and only 6 percent attended college.48 The average Mexican-American student had a seventh-grade education, and in Texas the dropout rate was 89 percent.49 Mexican-Americans were often pushed into remedial, vocational, and ROTC tracks—or pushed out of school altogether. Speaking Spanish was outlawed almost universally, punishable by paddling, soap in the mouth, and other forms of corporal punishment. Quotas were common for the number of Mexican-Americans athletes or cheerleaders—even in schools where Mexican-American students were the majority.50

In response to these conditions, bilingual and bicultural education reforms became central demands of the movement. The most important point is that these demands were tied to local school struggles for change from the bottom up. The first bilingual program was started at the Coral Way Elementary School in Miami in 1963. Of course, the context for this program—designed for elite exiles from the Cuban Revolution—was entirely different from what Chicanos in the Southwest faced. Nevertheless, the success of Coral Way inspired bilingual programs elsewhere, expanding by ones and twos till 1968 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Winning these programs, however, required struggle. Three school-based struggles in Texas and California are the best known from this era, and also the high point of the impact of the Chicano movement on public schooling. The best known, and earliest of the three, took place in East Los Angeles in 1968. Carlos Muñoz argues that, “prior to 1968 there had been no large scale effort to radically restructure the educational system and make it more meaningful to the Chicano experience.”51 That all changed in March 1968 when students walked out of five high schools in East Los Angeles. Dramatized in Edward James Olmos’s 2006 movie Walkout!, these actions brought students together with other community activists to present school authorities with a series of demands, including a citizens review board, the hiring of Chicano personnel in schools with majority Chicano enrollment, and authorizing the citizen board to develop bilingual and bicultural programs based on school-community partnership. An article in the March 17, 1968, edition of the Los Angeles Times described the protests as “a week and a half of walkouts, speeches, sporadic lawbreaking, arrests, demands, picketing, sympathy demonstrations, sit-ins, police tactical alerts, and emergency sessions of the school board.”52 In fact, the school board reacted more sympathetically than in other Chicano struggles over schooling, but ultimately used “lack of funding” as an excuse to take no action.

The walkouts gradually subsided until twelve students and one teacher were arrested in May 1968. Not surprisingly, those targeted were members of the most radical and active section of the struggle, including the United Mexican-American Students (now known as MEChA), the Mexican-American Political Association (MAPA), the Brown Berets, and La Raza newspaper. Their arrests reenergized the movement and fostered widespread support from other groups in the city. The groundswell of support for the arrested activists ultimately led to the enactment of many of the original demands, including the oversight board, and the implementation of bilingual-bicultural programs. Not only did dropout rates decline dramatically, but the East Los Angeles walkouts became a model that Chicano activists across the Southwest emulated.53

Less widely known but better documented are the struggles in Crystal City in South Texas in the 1960s. In 1967, the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) was formed in San Antonio and became one of the key organizations in the Chicano movement in Texas.54 MAYO regularly led student walkouts and boycotts of schools in San Antonio and made bilingual-bicultural education a primary demand. In Crystal City, MAYO had presented a series of student petitions throughout 1969, which had been entirely ignored by the all-Anglo school board. In November 1969, MAYO and other organizations turned out some 450 people to the monthly board meeting. MAYO activists presented another petition signed by 350 high school students. Its fourteen demands included a call for students, not the racist teachers, to choose band, “twirler,” and cheerleader members. Students demanded smaller class sizes, and that teachers be required to learn Spanish. They called for greater student input into the curriculum, the creation of bilingual-bicultural programs, a free speech zone, and keeping schools open around the clock for community use. Finally, students wanted September 16 (the Mexican holiday commemorating independence from Spain) to be a school holiday, and called for improvements to school facilities.

The board took no action then, or at the December 1969 meeting. MAYO responded by leading a three-week boycott of the junior and senior high schools. The boycott began with repeated demonstrations of hundreds of students in front of the high school, but spread to target Anglo-owned businesses that were known for their racist practices against Chicano employees and customers. MAYO worked with Texans for the Educational Advancement of Mexican Americans to set up what were known as liberation schools during the Christmas break to ensure students did not fall behind in their studies. These liberation schools became the testing ground for a Chicano-centered, bilingual curriculum. After school hours, students would conduct voter registration drives in the region around Crystal City. The schools included political education for parents, as well. In the course of the two-week Christmas break, more than 500 students attended these liberation schools.

The boycott led to the intervention of the federal Office of Civil Rights, forcing the school board to recognize students’ and parents’ demands. Moreover, no students were punished for participation in the boycott. One principal reason for the boycott’s success was that students were organized. MAYO drew lessons from previous walkouts and applied them in Crystal City. And they took the time to politically train students and parents involved in the struggle. Armando Navarro writes: “The Crystal City school walkout became a high point in MAYO’s struggle for educational change. It was the culmination of numerous MAYO-induced school boycotts. This walkout, in conjunction with the Edcouch-Elsa and Kingville boycotts, helped to spread a contagion of activism among Chicanos in Texas.”55

Parents, organized through Ciudadanos Unidos (Citizens United), and MAYO activists worked with Office of Education officials and researchers and teachers from Chicago State University and San Diego State University to train bilingual teachers and develop a new curriculum that incorporated Chicano history, literature, arts, and bilingual programs. The full curriculum was completed and made official by the board on February 1, 1973. By then, Ciudadanos Unidos and MAYO had merged to form La Raza Unida Party. They had run candidates for the school board several times and by the early 1970s, Chicanos made up a majority of the board.

A similar story played out in Houston.56 In 1968, MAYO organized a conference in Houston that brought various Chicano youth organizations together. What emerged was the group Advocating Rights for Mexican American Students (ARMAS) of junior and high school students, and Las Familias Unidas, comprised of neighborhood activists. ARMAS first targeted Houston Independent School District (HISD) in March 1969 over proposed cuts to the free lunch program. The school board eventually reversed those cuts, giving ARMAS and other student activists more confidence. The following September, ARMAS presented the board with a list of student demands and planned a walkout to begin on September 16. That morning, 100 students walked out of Jefferson Davis Senior High School, protested in front of the building, and presented the administration with a list of five demands, including calls for bilingual and bicultural programs, more Chicano school staff, and an end to the “pregnancy list” that Davis administrators posted with names of young women who were forced out of school during pregnancy. Hundreds of additional students walked out of junior and senior high schools across the city. While student demands went unmet, the walkouts provided ARMAS with widespread support that aided the next stage of struggle.

In 1969, a court case involving school integration was decided in Texas that forced districts to draw up integration plans. HISD officials made the fateful decision to classify Mexican-American students as white for the purposes of their plan. This meant that schools with predominantly African-American and Mexican-American students were now “integrated” in the eyes of HISD officials. Community outrage at this decision led several organizations to join together to form the Mexican American Education Council (MEAC) in the summer of 1970. MEAC pressured the HISD board to reverse its decision, but those calls went unheeded. MEAC responded by calling for a school boycott to begin on the first day of the 1970–71 school year. The boycott lasted from August 31 till September 16, 1970, and inspired the participation of over 60 percent of Houston’s students. As with the Crystal City walkouts, MEAC set up Huelga Enrichment Centers in community centers and churches across the city. These “huelga schools” (huelga means “strike” in Spanish) taught nearly 3,000 students during the course of the boycott.

A central demand in this struggle was for recognition of Mexican-Americans as a distinct ethnic group. To be sure, some of the reaction to HISD’s “integration” plan drew on racist attitudes among some Mexican-Americans in Houston toward African Americans and their children. Still, the three-week boycott and the huelga schools led to a major victory. Not only were Mexican-Americans recognized as a distinct group in the eyes of HISD, but the boycott also led to the implementation of bilingual-bicultural programs, the hiring of Mexican-American school staff, and greater respect of Mexican-American students in school.

These popular school-based struggles formed the foundation on which educators’ efforts to address the academic and linguistic needs of Mexican-American students could make a difference. In 1965, the National Education Association conducted a study to assess the needs of Mexican-American students in the Southwest. They held a conference in Tucson October 30–31, 1966, to present and publicize the results. Earlier that year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), created by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, held a conference in Albuquerque on discrimination against Mexican-Americans. Chicano delegates walked out of the conference to protest the lack of Mexican American representation on the EEOC board.57 In the context of growing resistance across the Southwest to racism and segregation, these two events pressured bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C., to heed the demands Mexican-Americans were making of schools, and of new anti-poverty and civil rights legislation. In January 1967, Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas introduced the Bilingual Education Act into Congress. The bill received “lukewarm” support from Democrats and from President Johnson.58 Nevertheless, Yarborough tied the bill to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, rather than have it stand for a separate vote. In 1968, the act was passed as Title VII of ESEA.

Many histories of the Bilingual Education Act have documented the deficiencies of its original version, which neither required school authorities to provide for bilingual education nor defined what bilingual education should look like. Reauthorization of the act in 1974 finally provided a definition of what bilingual education is, but that definition, discussed earlier, focused on transition from the home language to English, not on the addition of English to the home language. More important was the fallout of the Lau v. Nichols Supreme Court case that same year. A group of Chinese-American parents had sued San Francisco schools citing inadequate education provided to their children. The Lau verdict was remarkable for two reasons: 1) it found English-only education to be a violation of the equal education clause of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and 2) it ruled that schools were required to provide special assistance to students to learn English, not just give them equal access to schools, textbooks, etc. In 1979, the Office of Education59 drafted the Lau Remedies, specific directives requiring districts to implement bilingual education in elementary schools where there were sufficient numbers of emergent bilinguals.60

Without such local struggles as those discussed above, it is unlikely that the Bilingual Education Act ever would have been passed. Even had it come to light, it never would have been expanded and deepened as it was in the early 1970s—both in intent and funding. That is, militant local struggles from California to Texas and beyond added to the general atmosphere that transformed anti-poverty and educational policy from the mid-1960s from mere words on the page into programs that began to make a real impact. Ultimately, such on-the-ground activism faded over the course of the 1970s. As with other social movements from that era, the primary arena for organizing shifted to campaigning for Democratic candidates and away from direct action and mass organizing. Coupled with the beginnings of a ruling-class offensive to push back the movements of that era, all the gains of the sixties and early seventies, including bilingual and bicultural education, came under attack. Case in point: Reagan’s first Secretary of Education prevented the 1979 Lau Remedies from being issued, and the Bilingual Education Act was left to wither on the vine.61

Anti-immigrant backlash and the English-only movement
Bilingual education—and the broader societal goal of maintaining non-English languages—has been under attack ever since. These attacks culminated at the turn of this century with the passage of three state ballot initiatives effectively outlawing bilingual education. The first, Proposition 227, was passed by large margins in California in 1998. Bankrolled by Silicon Valley millionaire Ron Unz, the initiative—subtly entitled “English for the Children”—outlawed home language use for instruction and mandated English-only “sheltered” programs for a period “not normally intended to exceed one year.”62 The measure passed with 61 percent of the vote, although Latinos voted against it by a two-to-one margin. While media coverage at the time was obsessed with the “failure” of bilingual education, they often ignored two facts: 1) only 30 percent of emergent bilinguals at that time were actually enrolled in bilingual programs (most of them transitional programs); and 2) within those programs, only 20 percent of teachers were certified bilingual educators.63 A year later, Unz took his show on the road to Arizona, where he bankrolled Proposition 203. Sixty-three percent of Arizona voters approved the proposition in 2000. Proposition 203 is even more restrictive than its California cousin, as evidenced by the Structured English Immersion model discussed above. A particularly outrageous consequence of Proposition 203 is that the only way public schools in the Arizona portion of the Navajo Nation have been allowed to continue with their bilingual programs is to formally label Navajo a foreign language. Two years later, Massachusetts voters approved Question 2, an initiative to replace transitional bilingual programs with English-only ones. The measure passed by 68 percent. That same year, Colorado voters narrowly turned down the most restrictive initiative of all, an amendment to the state constitution that actually would have made bilingual education illegal.

What accounts for this dramatic turnaround from the early 1970s? In addition to the general trends mentioned above, anti-immigrant forces—and the racist ideas they espouse—gradually moved from the far-right fringe to the mainstream of U.S. politics. For example, the federal government responded to a series of economic downturns in the seventies and early eighties by stepping up attacks on immigrant workers and their rights. In 1982, with unemployment at around 12 percent, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS, now known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE) initiated “Project Jobs” to conduct workplace raids and round up undocumented workers.64 Four years later, Congress passed the Immigration and Refugee Control Act, which increased funds significantly for border control and detainment centers. In 1989, the border was further militarized when border guards were issued M-15 rifles. The next year, the Immigration Act authorized the INS to make arrests for suspected violations of any federal law, not just immigration-related issues. The bill further increased police and military presence on the border and in border areas.65 Of course, these measures did little to actually prevent immigration; they merely criminalized immigration further and added a terrifying level of violence.

This era of anti-immigrant backlash culminated in the passage of Proposition 187 in California in 1994. The measure was approved by 59 percent of the vote and declared undocumented immigrants ineligible for any public service—including public school, in defiance of the Plyler v. Doe case mentioned above. In essence, the initiative would turn teachers, nurses, and other public employees into border patrol agents, requiring them to identify and report undocumented residents who tried to use public services.66 The pro-187 campaign director, Ron Prince, said of the measure: “You are the posse and [Proposition 187] is the rope.”67

Not surprisingly, bilingual education was included as a target for these “posses.” In 1981, Senator Samuel Hayakawa (R-CA) introduced the first constitutional amendment to declare English the official language of the United States. Two years later, he joined with Michigan ophthalmologist John Tanton to form U.S. English, an organization that exists to this day and pushes for laws supporting English as the official language. The connection between these English-only activists and anti-immigration groups is clear: U.S. English at one time shared not only the office space with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the reactionary anti-immigration organization, but Tanton was executive director of both organizations.68 In fact, U.S. English served as an avenue to provide greater credibility to racist ant-immigrant attitudes: its board included long-term CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite and Bush Sr.’s first nominee for secretary of labor, Linda Chávez.69 Supporters of U.S. English could deny being racist while supporting an organization that aimed to undo some of the most important gains in immigrant rights of the sixties and seventies, such as bilingual education. U.S. English suffered setbacks in the late 1980s: an internal memo penned by Tanton was leaked that construed the “threats” that Latinos presented, complaining of their “culture of bribery,” Catholicism, “low educability,” and high birthrates.70 Moreover, reports emerged documenting $1 million in donations to U.S. English from the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist organization.71 These minor hiccups, however, did not stem the tide of state laws declaring English the official language. As of this writing, thirty states have adopted such laws, all but one passed between 1978–2007.

To lay this trend solely at the feet of anti-immigrant bigots would be to tell only one half of the story, however. The other half includes the tepid, accommodating responses to such attacks by liberal organizations as the terrain shifted ever rightward under their feet. For example (and perhaps foreshadowing the disastrous No on 8 campaign against the anti-same-sex marriage initiative in 2008, Prop 8), the No on 227 campaign in California in 1998 refused to mount a defense of bilingual education. The leadership claimed the issue was too complicated to explain. This posture reflected their conservative and profoundly condescending attitudes toward ordinary voters, and flew in the face of the history of bilingual education that was fought for and won in the U.S. from the ground up. Instead, they focused their efforts on swaying the opinion of “swing voters,” Republican women over the age of fifty.72

Most notorious, though, was the response in Colorado to the Unz-financed amendment in 2002 to criminalize bilingual education. As mentioned above, that initiative failed, with 56 percent of the vote going against it. But the victory was a bitter pill: the main organizers against the initiative appealed to the vilest racism to drum up support against it. One TV commercial proclaimed that the measure would “force children who can barely speak English into regular classrooms, creating chaos and disrupting learning.” James Crawford aptly summarized this approach as, “If you can’t beat racism, then try to exploit it.”73

This combination of overt anti-immigrant backlash and panics around non-English languages had its most profound effect in NCLB. Title VII, the Bilingual Education Act, was abolished in that reauthorization. Any mention of bilingual approaches to education for students learning English have been silenced, replaced by variations on the phrase “English language acquisition.”74 As mentioned earlier, funding for English instruction has increased, but it has been tied to English-only approaches to language education. Even where local initiatives may in fact still support bilingual education,75 NCLB mandates for high-stakes testing in English have produced a blowback, effectively forcing local authorities to adopt English-only approaches and hoping against hope that their students pass the test.76 Not only have many mainstream Latino rights organizations, such as the National Council of La Raza, supported NCLB in the hope that accountability would lead to exposure of how poorly schools educate Latino (and other) children and thus to reforms, but erstwhile supporters of bilingual education in Congress such as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were silent on the abolition of Title VII and voted for NCLB.77

As grim as the situation has become for bilingual education, and more importantly for the academic and linguistic needs of emergent bilingual students in U.S. schools, the potential exists today as at no other time since the Chicano civil rights movement to turn things around. The remarkable May Day rallies for immigration rights in 2006, and the ongoing struggles against workplace raids and militarization of the border, have laid the groundwork for a new mass movement against racism and for immigration rights. Such a movement has the potential to create precisely the kind of pressure from the ground up and the kind of generalized political atmosphere that can lead to renewed support for bilingual education and respect for multilingualism in the United States.78 The mass participation of students in the May Day rallies two years ago suggests one base for turning this idea into reality.

In addition, educators and others dedicated to improving the education of emergent bilingual students must broaden the scope of their work and be clear on what it is we are fighting for. First, in a country formed by conquest, slavery, and mass immigration, the linguistic rights of ordinary people must be a central feature of the fight against oppression. These rights must apply equally to immigrants and their children to be educated in the home language; to Native nations and their efforts to revitalize their languages; as well as to speakers of non-mainstream varieties of English, such as African-American English, to academic and linguistic support for learning standard, academic English. Second, and recalling the flexibility in the Marxist approach to language rights argued above, the fight for these rights cannot lead to a single model for education in every school. Whether maintenance of bilingual, dual language, or more individualized language support models are the most appropriate is an issue to be resolved locally. The central argument, however, is that basing the fight for language rights on a broader fight against racism and for immigrant rights is the most effective strategy for challenging the monolingualist ideologies and practices that are dominant in the United States. The Chicano struggles of the sixties and seventies made this clear. It is only in this context that linguistic divisions in the U.S. can be overcome on a basis of equality, not on a basis of imposed English monolingualism.

It is impossible to predict what may spark the next round of struggle for the movement—perhaps fights against workplace raids, fights around NCLB reauthorization, or the Flores case in Arizona described earlier. No matter what that spark may be, absent mass movements fighting for change from the ground up, the crisis facing emergent bilingual students will continue. Legendary language researcher Joshua Fishman recognized in exasperation fifteen years ago: “When it comes to bilingual education, why do the facts seem to matter so little?”79 Answering that question means recognizing that without the strength of broad social forces, such as dynamic mass movements against racism and in support of immigration rights, efforts to effect change at the classroom or policy levels by definition will be limited. By learning the lessons of past victories and defeats concerning language and education, and connecting them to current struggles, we can transform the hope engendered over the last two years represented in the slogan “Sí se puede” into “Sí se pudo” (Yes we did).


  1. Quoted in The Invisible Minority: Report of the NEA-Tucson Survey on the Teaching of Spanish to the Spanish-Speaking (Washington, D.C.: The National Education Association, 1966), 8.
  2. Most often, such students are labeled “English language learners” or “limited English proficient students.” Emergent bilingual is more accurate because it recognizes that students can, should, and do maintain their home language while learning English.
  3. Ofelia García, Jo Anne Kleifgen, and Lorraine Falchi, Equity Matters Research Report #1: From English Language Learners to Emergent Bilinguals (New York: Campaign for Education Equity), 8–17, Institute for Language and Education Policy, (January 24, 2009).
  4. James Crawford, “An equity agenda for English language learners: Beyond Proposition 227 and NCLB,” keynote presentation at the Proposition 227 and Beyond: Connecting Research, Policy, and Practice conference, San Marcos, CA, November 7–8, 2008, Institute for Language and Education Policy.
  5. R. Capps, M. Fix, J. Murray, J. Ost, J. S. Passel, and S. Herwantoro, The New Demography of America’s Schools: Immigration and the No Child Left Behind Act (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 2005).
  6. Ibid.
  7. Quoted in Crawford, "An equity agenda."
  8. The rate is likely higher as parents often do not have the language skills necessary to complete the paperwork to qualify for the program.
  9. See García et al., From English Language Learner, Kindler, Survey of States’, and Capps et al, The New Demography for more demographic analysis.
  10. Crawford, "An equity agenda."
  11. Ibid.
  12. Claude Goldenberg, “Teaching English language learners: What the research does—and does not—say,” American Educator, Summer 2008, 10.
  13. Kate Menken, English Learners Left Behind: Standardized Testing as Language Policy (Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2008).
  14. Michele McNeil, “Funding disparities squeeze ELL efforts,” Education Week, January 8, 2009.
  15. Kevin Clark, “The case for structured English immersion,” Educational Leadership, vol. 66, April 2009, 42–46.
  16. Stephen Krashen, Kellie Rolstad, and Jeff MacSwan, “Review of ‘Research summary and bibliography for structured English immersion programs’ of the Arizona English Language Learners Task Force,” Institute for Language and Education Policy.
  17. For overviews of this research see Ofelia García, Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008); Ofelia García & Colin Baker (Eds.), Bilingual Education: An Introductory Reader (Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2007).
  18. See García, Bilingual Education, for further discussion.
  19. John Watzke, Lasting Change in Foreign Language Education: A Historical Case for Change in National Policy (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003).
  20. Krashen, et al., “Review of ‘Research summary and bibliography for structured English immersion programs.’”
  21. V. I. Lenin, “Critical remarks on the national question,” Questions of National Policy and Proletarian Internationalism (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1970), 20.
  22. Sue Wright, Language Policy and Language Planning: From Nationalism to Globalization (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
  23. Eric Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 21.
  24. Ibid., 44.
  25. Sinfree Makoni and Alistair Pennycook (Eds.), Disinventing and Reconstituting Languages (Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2006).
  26. Ibid.; Jeffrey Bale, “International comparative perspectives on heritage language education policy research,” Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, in press.
  27. He continues: “The proletariat, …far from undertaking to uphold the national development of every nation, on the contrary, warns the masses against such illusions, stands for the fullest freedom of capitalist intercourse and welcomes every kind of assimilation of nations, except that which is founded on force or privilege.” [Author’s emphasis] Lenin, “Critical remarks,” 28.
  28. Peter Ives, Gramsci’s Politics of Language (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2004), Chapter 2.
  29. Tony Johnson, Historical Documents in American Education (Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2002).
  30. Bernard J. Weiss (Ed.), American Education and the European Immigrant: 1840–1940 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1982).
  31. R. A. Carlson, The Americanization Syndrome: A Quest for Conformity (London: Croom Helm, 1987), 60.
  32. Joshua Fishman, The Rise and Fall of the Ethnic Revival (Berlin: Mouton Publishers, 1985); Calvin Veltman, Language Shift in the United States (Berlin: Mouton Publishers, 1983).
  33. Saul Cohen, Education in the United States: A Documentary History, Vols. 4–5 (New York: Random House, 1974), 2,931.
  34. Ibid., 2,933
  35. Ibid., 2,971.
  36. Ibid., 2,972.
  37. James Crawford, Language Loyalties: A Source Book on the Official English Controversy (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 48.
  38. Cohen, Education in the United States, 3,012.
  39. Carlson, The Americanization Syndrome; Terrency Wiley, “The imposition of World War I era English-only policies and the fate of German in North America,” in T. Ricento & B. Burnaby (Eds.), Language Policies in the United States and Canada: Myths and Realities (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 1998).
  40. Heinz Kloss, The American Bilingual Tradition (Washington, D.C. and McHenry, Il: Center for Applied Linguistics and Delta Systems, 1998). [Reprint of Heinz Kloss, The American Bilingual Tradition (Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 1977)]
  41. Thomas Ricento, “Problems with the ‘language-as-resource’ discourse in the promotion of heritage languages in the U.S.A,” Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 9, 2005, 348–68.
  42. Ignacio M. García, Chicanismo: The Forging of a Militant Ethos Among Mexican Americans (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1997), 8–13; Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., Brown, Not White: School Integration and the Chicano Movement in Houston (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2001), 46–47.
  43. Ibid., 28; Justin Akers Chacón, “Fighting for justice in the ‘factories of the fields,’” ISR 34, March–April 2004.
  44. Ibid,. 10.
  45. García, Chicanismo, 6; Ofelia García, Bilingual Education, 168; Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., Contested Policy: The Rise and Fall of Federal Bilingual Education in the United States 1960–2001 (Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2004), 6.
  46. Jeffrey Bale, When Arabic is the “Target” Language: National Security, Title VI and Arabic Language Programs 1958-1991 (unpublished dissertation, 2008), Chapter 5; García, Bilingual Education, 168; Carlos J. Ovando, “Bilingual education in the United States: Historical developments and current issues,” Bilingual Research Journal, Vol. 71, Spring 2003, 1–24.
  47. Mario Barrera, “The politics of educational change: Introduction,” in Alfredo Castañeda, Manuel Ramírez, III, Carlos E. Cortés, and Mario Barrera (Eds.), Mexican Americans and Educational Change (New York: Arno Press, 1974), 76; García, Chicanismo, 7; San Miguel, Jr., Contested Policy, 6.
  48. García, Chicanismo, 26.
  49. García, Bilingual Education, 169.
  50. García, Chicanismo, 27.
  51. Carlos Muñoz, Jr. “The Politics of Educational Change in East Los Angeles,” 85.
  52. Dial Torgerson, Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1968, quoted in Ibid, 85.
  53. Ibid., 86–96.
  54. See Armando Navarro, Mexican American Youth Organization: Avant-Garde of the Chicano Movement in Texas (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1995), especially Chapter 4; Armando L. Trujillo, Chicano Empowerment and Bilingual Education: Movimiento Politics in Crystal City, Texas (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), especially Chapter 3.
  55. Navarro, Mexican American Youth Organization, 148.
  56. This discussion of Houston is based on San Miguel, Jr., Brown, Not White, Chapters 4–6.
  57. Robert A. Reveles, “Biculturalism and the United States Congress: The Dynamics of Political Change” in Alfredo Castañeda et al, Mexican Americans and Educational Change, 205–15.
  58. Ibid., 211.
  59. The Department of Education was not created until 1980. Until then federal programs were administered by the Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
  60. García, Bilingual Education, 170.
  61. Ibid., 171.
  62. Quoted in Ibid., 182.
  63. James Crawford, Advocating for English Learners: Selected Essays (Clevedon, UK: Multlingual Matters, 1998), 43; García, Bilingual Education, 183.
  64. Lance Selfa and Helen Scott, No Scapegoats! Immigrants Are Not to Blame (Chicago: Bookmarks, 1995), 15.
  65. Ibid., 18.
  66. Ibid., 2.
  67. Quoted in Ibid.
  68. James Crawford, At War with Diversity: U.S. Language Policy in an Age of Anxiety (Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, 2000), 23; García, Bilingual Education, 172.
  69. Chávez was forced to withdraw from contention when it was learned she employed undocumented house staff.
  70. Quoted in García, Bilingual Education, 172.
  71. Crawford, At War, 23.
  72. Crawford, Advocating, 38–39.
  73. Quoted in García, Bilingual Education, 183.
  74. Ibid., 185.
  75. For example, New York still offers the Regents high school exit exams in five additional languages besides English, and Texas still officially uses transitional bilingual education models.
  76. Menken, 2008.
  77. Crawford, Advocating, 124.
  78. See ongoing coverage of the development of this movement in issues of the ISR, including: 48 (July–Aug., 2006); 50 (Nov.–Dec., 2006); 52 (Mar.–Apr., 2007); 53 (May–June, 2007); 54 (July–Aug., 2007); 58 (Mar.–Apr., 2008); 61 (Sept.–Oct., 2008).
  79. Joshua Fishman, “The displaced anxieties of Anglo-Americans,” in J. Crawford (Ed.), Language Loyalties: A Source Book on the Official English Controversy (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), 165–70).

Issue #103

Winter 2016-17

"A sense of hope and the possibility for solidarity"

Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
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