By Sam Acuna, Staff Writer
Imagine it is your first day at a new school in a completely new place. You walk into your first class and are eager to learn and listen to your teacher. You sit down with all the other children and look around you, but you cannot understand them. The teacher says some words, and you come to a stunning realization: you have no idea what he or she is saying. Your instructor talks for what seems like forever and you begin to have this sinking feeling as they write words you do not recognize on the board. Then your teacher hands out a worksheet and many of the other children begin to work on it, but you do not. You cannot read this worksheet. You cannot succeed in this academic setting.
This is what children under the English Language in Public Schools Statute, also known as Proposition 227, feel. This statute was passed in 1998 in the state of California. It required that Limited English Proficient students be taught entirely in English and eliminated most bilingual classes. Instead of immersing these students gradually into the English language by using both their native tongue and the English language they should learn in school, this statute made the transition immediate. These children were culture-shocked into a language.
Now, in 2016, we have the opportunity to reverse this act. Proposition 58 repeals the majority of the English Language in Public Schools Initiative. This would allow instructors to use both the native language of the students and English to teach in public schools. Proposition 58 would allow English Learners to gradually immerse themselves. They could learn English at a better pace and actually master it. This proposition would also open up another language to students who only speak English. If the parents so choose, their child could be immersed in bilingual education as well. They could learn the beautiful words of another culture.
UofR Junior Jocelyn Garrido says: “Why not let your children learn another language?” Garrido, who is majoring in Liberal Studies and Spanish, has done a lot of research on this material. She explained that the program would “not completely eradicate English from the classroom” and went on to say that bilingual education is “very effective.” Garrido intends to vote yes on Proposition 58.
We are a country that professes equal opportunity. We are also a nation of immigrants. These two major factors demonstrate why this act is so important. Would we really be a fair nation if we did not give all our children the equal opportunity to learn effectively? Children who do not have the benefit of learning English at home need our schools to compensate for this because it is out of their control. Children who already have this benefit should be able to learn to communicate in new ways. As voters, we have the responsibility to make our nation the best it can be for everybody. We have to vote yes on Proposition 58 so we can have a better future for all the children of California.