California's Bilingual Education Ballot Initiative

It's Super Tuesday today, which means that voters in 11 states are heading to the polls to set the media narrative for the next few weeks to assign delegates to the remaining Republican and Democratic presidential nominees. Presidential election season is fully on now, and won't end until the country votes on November 8th.

This fall, California's ballots will be a little more complicated. In a new column for LA School Report, I explain the state's upcoming referendum on expanding access to multilingual education:

The rise of revanchist xenophobia on the campaign trail — currently embodied in Donald Trump’s campaign — isn’t new either. American concern over immigrant integration is an old, cyclical story. To a degree, November’s election will be a referendum on how the country should respond to its growing diversity: Are immigrant families best understood as problems, or in terms of their potential?

Fittingly, in California, the campaign season will include a subplot — and perhaps a denouement — from one of the last rounds of American immigration anxiety. In 1998, Californians anxious about a recent influx of immigrants passed Proposition 227, a ballot measure that mandated English immersion for nearly all of the states’ multilingual students. This year, as the country argues over whether to build a wall on our southern border, Californians will vote on the Multilingual Education Act, a new ballot initiative that would update and improve Prop. 227 by expanding the availability of bilingual education models (including popular dual-immersion programs) for English language learners.

Click here to read the entire column!

This post is part of New America’s Dual Language Learners National Work Group. Click here for more information on this team’s work. To subscribe to the biweekly newsletter, click here, enter your contact information, and select “Education Policy.”"


Conor P. Williams is the founding director of the Dual Language Learner National Work Group at New America. His work addresses policies and practices related to educational equity, dual language learners, and school choice.