27 Chapters
Medium 9781574411713

Conclusion: Contestation and Federal Bilingual Education Policy

Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF

CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION

This brief history focused on one of the most contentious and misunderstood policies in the country: federal bilingual education. It traced and explained, in bold sketches, the rise and fall of federal bilingual education policy during the years from 1960 to 2001 and the role played by the contending groups of supporters and opponents in its development.

Three major findings were presented in this book. First, this study showed that contestation, conflict, and accommodation were integral aspects of federal bilingual education policy development. From its origins in the 1960s to the present, different groups with competing notions of ethnicity, assimilation, pedagogy, and power have contended, clashed, struggled, and negotiated with each other for hegemony in the development and implementation of bilingual education. Second, contextual forces over time, especially electoral politics and a changing political climate at the national, state, and local level, significantly shaped the contours and content of this policy. Finally, those supportive of or opposed to federal bilingual education displayed a wide array of political, educational, and social reasons for their actions.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574411713

Chapter 2: The Expansion of Bilingual Education, 1968-1978

Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 2

THE EXPANSION OF BILINGUAL

EDUCATION, 1968–1978

INTRODUCTION

During the first decade of its existence, from 1968 to 1978, bilingual education policy was strengthened and transformed as it was implemented.

Federal court rulings, executive actions, and the political struggles of minority and non-minority group members contributed to its growth and strengthening.

The proponents of bilingual education constantly struggled for funds, created the administrative mechanisms for encouraging the establishment of bilingual education programs, provided definitions of and clashed over the goals and content of bilingual education, and developed a federal support system for its implementation. These developments led to a variety of programmatic, educational, and political changes and to the transformation in the goals, scope, and character of bilingual education. They also led to the emergence of an organized opposition to bilingual education policy.

TRANSFORMATION OF POLICY

Expand Scope of Legislation: From Categorical to

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574411713

2: Conclusion

Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF

46

CONTESTED POLICY

time between pre-and post-testing, the programs being studied, the adequacy of instructional staff, and the sources of funds being used.64 A particularly biting critique was issued by Robert A. Cervantes, an educator from California. Cervantes’ critique, unlike most of his contemporaries’, was broad in scope and went beyond criticizing technical aspects of the evaluation. He provided an overview of the events leading to the awarding of the contract to conduct a national evaluation of bilingual education and explained the reasons for acceptance of a “flawed” proposal. He argued that the award to AIR was related to the politics of

Watergate (Nixon’s reelection committee) and was part of a systematic plan to deprive Development Associates—the alternative group of evaluators—of federal contracts.65

Despite these criticisms, the AIR Report raised serious questions about the effectiveness of bilingual education. It was the first report to do so.

CONCLUSION

The passage of the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 was viewed in extremely positive terms by legislators, educators, and activists of all sorts. Despite its enactment, bilingual education was a minor, compensatory, and voluntary piece of legislation. During the next decade the proponents of bilingual education began to change its character and to transform the policy as it was being implemented. They expanded the scope of bilingual education legislation, contested the goals of this program, increased its funding, eliminated its compensatory provisions, and made it mandatory. In doing so, they significantly increased the federal role in local education.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574411713

Chapter 1: Origins of Federal Bilingual Education Policy

Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 1

ORIGINS OF FEDERAL

BILINGUAL EDUCATION POLICY

Bilingual education is not a new phenomenon. It has existed in various forms since this nation’s founding. The use of non-English languages as well as the use of two or more languages to teach academic subjects to individuals in the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary grades has been supported, tolerated, or sanctioned by public and parochial school officials since the 1600s.1 For the most part, local or state officials made these language decisions. The federal government rarely legislated language choice, although it discouraged the use of non-English languages in American life, especially in the territories and among certain immigrant and racial minority groups.2 The tradition of refraining from taking official action related to language policies in general or school language policies in particular ended in 1968. In this year, the U.S. Congress passed the Bilingual Education Act.3 Why and how this occurred is the emphasis of this chapter.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574411713

1: Conclusion

Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. University of North Texas Press PDF

18

CONTESTED POLICY

was no mandate, few school districts, as advocates found out later, took advantage of this bill during the first several years of its implementation.

“Bilingual education,” noted John C. Molina, the first Mexican-American director of the national Office of Bilingual Education, “was too new and philosophically threatening to be accepted by many school districts which often favored remedial and English language programs instead.”40

Third, the program was categorical in nature and compensatory in intent. Categorical funds were provided by the federal government to local educational agencies to support services of a particular type or for a particular category of students. Under this new bill, funds were to be used to develop compensatory educational programs for those students who were limited in their ability to speak English and who came from low-income homes, i.e., those who were economically and “linguistically handicapped.”

Fourth, it was “open-ended”: it did not legally require or prescribe a particular curriculum nor insist on particular bilingual instructional techniques. Congress, in keeping with tradition, did not specify any one single approach to instructing English language learners. A variety of educational programs in addition to bilingual ones were eligible for funding under the new bill.41

See All Chapters

See All Chapters