California Proposition 227 (1998)

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Proposition 227
English Language in Public Schools. Initiative Statute.
Results
Votes  %
Yes 3,599,312 60.88%
No 2,313,058 39.12%
Valid votes 5,912,370 95.26%
Invalid or blank votes 294,248 4.74%
Total votes 6,206,618 100.00%
Source: California Secretary of State[1]

Proposition 227[2] was a California ballot proposition passed on the June 2, 1998, ballot. Proposition 227 was repealed by Proposition 58 on November 8, 2016.

According to Ballotpedia, "Proposition 227 changed the way that "Limited English Proficient" (LEP) students are taught in California. Specifically, it

  • Requires California public schools to teach LEP students in special classes that are taught nearly all in English. This provision had the effect of eliminating "bilingual" classes in most cases.
  • Shortens the time most LEP students stay in special classes.
  • Proposition 227 eliminated most programs in the state that provided multi-year special classes to LEP students by requiring that (1) LEP students should move from special classes to regular classes when they have acquired a good working knowledge of English and (2) these special classes should not normally last longer than one year.
  • Required the state government to provide $50 million every year for ten years for English classes for adults who promise to tutor LEP students.[3]

The bill's intention was to educate Limited English proficiency students in a rapid, one-year program. It was sponsored by Ron Unz, the runner-up candidate in the 1994 Republican gubernatorial primary. The proposition was controversial because of its close proximity to heated political issues including race, immigration, and poverty. The methods of education enacted by the proposition reflect the electorate's support of assimilation over multiculturalism. It passed with a margin of 61% to 39%.

On September 28, 2014, the state legislature under Governor Jerry Brown passed Senate Bill 1174, which added Proposition 58 to the November 2016 ballot.[4] Proposition 58 passed by a wide margin, repealing most of Proposition 227.[5] A California Department of Education spokesperson anticipated a shortage of bilingual teachers under Proposition 58. The number of bilingual credentials had fallen after Proposition 227's passage.[6]

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