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English Language Learner's (ELL's) Trials
Transcript of English Language Learner's (ELL's) Trials
1923 - Meyer v. Nebraska
The Supreme Court bans an English-only law in a case brought by German Americans.
Overcoming Governmental Shortfalls
There is a grave significance in understanding the historical and legislative foundations of multilingual competency in the United States as it relates to ELL’s. These two concepts collectively answer “Why don’t they speak English?” when immigrants enter the United States, whether legally or not, with all of its freedoms. They instantly start to exercise their rights to speak their native language in an unofficial monolingual nation. Language is one of the ELL’s cultural pillars of foundation. It keeps them tied to their history. The teacher must realize that the language was an avenue used by the ELL’s ancestors to pass family data, folklore, native tradition and heritage to the younger generation. It also became instilled in the ELL that that was who they were. When teachers realize that the language and culture collectively provide the ELL self-value and self-worth, they will get a better idea of how to approach the ELL. It will also help them realize that it isn’t a matter of the ELL’s academic ability but rather a matter of losing their self worth. So the teacher’s approach to the ELL should be one that lets the ELL know that they are going to simply learn another means to express themselves and that it will only enhance their culture rather than replace it. The teacher must also understand the laws and policies surrounding the ELL. There are no perfect laws. The government wasn’t perfect then and isn’t perfect today at handling laws as they pertain to minorities and others. The government is like a pendulum that swings too far in each direction. The good thing is that the government has acted even though it is stuck on content rather than performance when it comes to ELL’s and others. There will continue to be laws in place right or wrong, good or bad. In either case, there will forever be people who interpret the laws incorrectly and the only ones suffering are the ELL’s.
English Language Learners Trials
1828 - U.S. government signs a treaty with Cherokee tribes.
With the number of Cherokee (350,000) living in the US (Oklahoma and North Carolina) and about 22,000 speaking their native language, the US government recognized their need and signed a treaty with the Cherokee. This treaty allowed the Cherokee to establish a twenty-one-school educational system that used the Cherokee syllabary to achieve a 90 percent literacy rate in the native language.
1864 - The federal government forces Native-American children to attend off-reservation schools.
This position of the federal government appears to be a total reversal of its decision some 36 years prior. In this decision, Native Americans Schools are mandated to instruct in English-only. It went as far as to allow Native Americans to be punished for using their native language.
1917–1918 - The governor of Iowa bans the use of any foreign language in public. Ohio passes legislation to remove all uses of German from the state’s elementary schools.
With German speakers as the target, mobs raid schools and burn German textbooks. Subsequently, fifteen states legislate English as the basic language of instruction.
1930 - Del Rio Independent School District v. Salvatierra
A Texas superior court finds that the Del Rio Independent school district cannot segregate Mexican students, but a higher court rules that the segregation is necessary to teach English to Mexican students.
1946, 1947 - Méndez v. Westminster School District
The U.S. Ninth District Court applies the 14th Amendment to schools, insisting “schools must be open to all children … regardless of lineage.”
1974 - Lau v. Nichols (414 U.S. 563)
U.S. Supreme Court establishes the right of students to differential treatment based on their language minority status, but it does not specify a particular instructional approach.
1981 - Castañeda v. Pickard
The Fifth Circuit Court tests the 1974 EEOA statute, outlining three criteria for programs serving EL students. District programs must be: (1) based on “sound educational theory,” (2) “implemented effectively” through adequately trained personnel and sufficient resources, and (3) evaluated as effective in overcoming language barriers. Qualified bilingual teachers must be employed, and children are not to be placed on the basis of English-language achievement tests.
1994 - California passes Proposition 187, which makes it illegal to provide public education to illegal immigrants.
Proposition is overturned in the courts because it violates Plyler v. Doe.
1998 - California voters approve Unz Initiative Proposition 227 (ED Code 300-340).
Requires that K–12 instruction be overwhelmingly in English, restricting use of primary language as a means of instruction. Subsequent measures pass in Arizona and Massachusetts, but French speakers vote down similar initiative in Maine.