What You Can Do
Q&A 10 Points
Q: Will Proposition 227 use any taxpayer dollars? If so, how much?
A: Proposition 227 appropriates $50 million dollars a year for a new spending program--not in our schools--but to teach adults English if they pledge to provide personal English tutoring to children in their community.
Q: If Proposition 227 does spend taxpayer dollars, will they go directly to students?
A: No. The $50 million will go to individuals who pledge to provide personal English tutoring to children in their community.
Q: Isn't the current Bilingual Education program that is in place mandatory and restrictive?
A: No. This March, the State Board of Education ended mandatory bilingual education. Schools can now use different methods for teaching English. Proposition 227 ends that new freedom and mandates a single teaching method that's never been tested.
Q: Will spending money on this proposition affect other already existing programs?
A: Proposition 227's financial impacts on individual school districts will vary widely by district. According to the Legislative Analyst's summary "the costs to the state would likely reduce spending on other school programs by a like amount."
Q: Will Proposition 227 give flexibility to teachers when the student needs assistance?
A: Proposition makes it illegal to teach in the children's language to help them learn English. It permits lawsuits by parents and guardians against teachers, school principals and school board members. It permits only one year of English instruction and denies more instruction to kids who need it even if they are trying as hard as they can.
Q: What if there are successful programs that are helping students? Will they be able to continue their good work?
A: Many school districts currently are using different methods to teach children English. Proposition 227 bans all local programs--even the best ones--and imposes one state mandate.
Q: Are only credentialed teachers going to be teaching students?
A: Teachers need to have no other qualification than a good knowledge of the English Language.
Q: Who is opposing Proposition 227?
A: The California League of Women Voters, California PTA, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and many, many others.
Q: Hasn't bilingual education been a failure in California?
A: Bilingual education is not on the ballot in June. What is on the ballot is Proposition 227's very specific proposal for California's children. If Proposition 227 passes on June 2, the state has 60 days to put 1.38 million limited English peaking kids into one classroom--regardless of their differences in ages, cultural backgrounds and academic abilities--to be taught by a teacher who is forbidden--under the threat of a lawsuit-- from speaking to these kids in their own language.
After 1 school year -- only 180 days-- these kids get put into regular classes regardless of whether or not they've mastered enough academic English to succeed in school.
Q: Yes, But doesn't bilingual education have a 95% failure rate right now?
A: No. That statistic means that every year about 5% of children are reclassified as having mastered English well enough to succeed academically. That doesn't mean 95% of the students have failed; it simply means they didn't master enough English in one year--which proves that Proposition 227's one-year only immersion program won??t work.
Q: Isn't this initiative the result of the public's frustration with the Legislature's failure to act?
A: The public is frustrated about a variety of aspects of California's education: school safety, teacher support, dwindling resources. The Legislature has passed legislation over the years that has been vetoed. However, if Proposition 227 passes, there will be no more opportunity for reasoned discussion and compromise. That's why it's important that we focus on what is in Proposition 227's untested proposal before the voters.
Q: Can't parents get a waiver to allow their children additional English classes?
A: Only kids who are over 10 years old, have special needs, or test higher than their average classmates can get additional English instruction. In order to apply for the waiver, the parents of these children would need to come down to the school personally. Only if the school has 19 other children in the same grade requesting waivers is it then required to provide additional English instruction. Otherwise, the student must change schools.
But the real cruelty of Proposition 227 is that it denies waivers to children under ten years old who test below average on English exams--the very children who need additional English instruction the most. No exceptions.
Q: Why are so many local school boards against Proposition 227?
A: Proposition 227 attacks local control by eliminating the ability of local school boards, parents and teachers to determine the best way to educate their own kids.
Q: Aren't children who don't need it being forced into bilingual education classes today?
A: All a parent has to do today to exempt a child from bilingual education is to write a note to the principal. By law, the principal must provide English-only instruction. Under Proposition 227, all children will automatically be put into English-only classes, regardless of their ability to understand what they're being taught. Proposition 227 is a one-size-fits-all experiment that cheats kids out of successful education and eliminates the ability of local school districts, teachers and parents to determine the most effective way for teaching their own children.
Q: Just how many kids are in bilingual education right now?
A: Only 6% of all kids in school are currently in a bilingual education program--about 30% of all the limited English speaking kids. So, it's pretty misleading to try to draw conclusions about the current education of all non-native English speakers.
Q: Don't kids learn new languages quickly if they're exposed to them early?
A: Researchers have discovered that kids do indeed learn conversational English quickly, but it takes between 4 and 7 years for them to develop the proficiency in academic English they need to succeed in school. Everyone agrees that only 1 year of English instruction--as Proposition 227 is proposing --isn't enough.
And we don't want kids graduating from high school merely knowing English. We want our graduates to be able to read road maps and balance checkbooks.
Q: Haven't people already made up their minds? Early polls show overwhelming support from an electorate that passed Propositions 187 and 209.
A: The debate on Proposition 227 is just beginning. Early polls asked if children should learn English. Absolutely. The real question before the voters is whether the untested Proposition 227 is the BEST way to teach children English. Unlike Props 187 and 209, Proposition 227 replaces a functioning system with his own untested program, subjecting hundreds of thousands of kids each year into an experiment that can't get fixed except by another initiative.
Q: Isn't this just another racist initiative?
A: The reason why Proposition 227 is ahead in the polls at this time has more to do with the public's frustration with the state of education. There have been recent discussions about class size, school safety, teacher support, dwindling resources, math standards, teacher evaluations. Governor Pete Wilson is proposing an education reform ballot initiatives for the November ballot. This discussion about improving education genuinely reflects Californians' desire to provide the best opportunities for our children. Proposition 227 just doesn't fit this bill.
Q: What¡¯s the scope and character of California¡¯s current network of preschool options?
A: The number of preschool enrollment slots varies across California¡¯s counties, ranging from 28 slots in San Francisco for every 100 children who are 0-5 years of age, for example, to just 11 slots per capita in Riverside County. We will return to whether Proposition 82 would address this disparity.
Citizens for an
Educated America: No on Prop 227