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Many states fail when it comes to providing policies that support the rights of English Language Learners. According to Quality Counts 2009, only New York, Florida and Arizona mandate that teachers receive training on how to work with English Language Learners. Research shows that approximately eleven states offer incent for incentives for teachers to get bilingual credentials. Certain states offer policies that try to stop the process for teachers and support staff to assist students in keeping an attachment to their native languages. In 2009, Quality Counts asserted that, seven states—Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, placed bans or restrictions on the use of native-language instruction with English Language Learners. Citizens in these states however are voting to bring about a change. As it was quoted by Judge William Douglass, “Under these state-imposed standards there is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education.
We know that those who do not understand English are certain to find their classroom experiences wholly incomprehensible and in no way meaningful.”(Wright 2010). The Massachusetts English Language Education in Public Schools Initiative, which some call Quest, was approved in Massachusetts. The Objective of Question 2 was to have ESL students be immersed into learning English by requiring all their subjects in English. In addition to the fast track curriculum, students would be placed in English language classrooms. Students that could not successfully complete assignments in English and whom could not speak English would go through a year long sheltered English immersion program. If and when the student is able to complete schoolwork in English, the student would then transition into an English language mainstream classroom. (http://www.ballotpedia.org). Ron Unz is the individual responsible for Proposition 203 in Arizona.
Also referred to as the Unz initiative, proposition 203, is a proposal that 63% of Arizona citizens voted for on November 7, 2000. Proposition 203 minimizes the amount of instruction available to English language students. Because of a shortage in bilingual teachers the freedom that Arizona schools once had in educating English Language Learners has been reduced. The resolve to this issue is again a rapid English immersion program. According to the legislative program, parents or guardians of English Language Learners can request for their children to sit out of the English Immersion Program under these specific circumstances. The circumstances were as followed: If it could be proven that the child already knows English, if the child is older than grade school age or if the child is identified as having special needs. (Wright 2005)
In Colorado, Amendment 31 was the initiative placed in front of citizens to vote on. Colorado’s proposal was on the November 2002 ballot as a constitutional amendment. To the dismay of ESL Learners, the initiative was not accepted. The law, if accepted, would make it mandatory for all public school students to have to learn their schoolwork in English, unless otherwise exempted. According to the website ballotpedia.org, it would be required for school districts to identify (with evidence) English learners, and to test their English proficiency once a year. Consequently, stakeholders established programs to educate ESL students English skills. This was necessary to participate in a school’s regular educational program. Over 70,000 public school students, or approximately nine percent of Colorado’s public school enrollment, qualified as an English learner. (ballotpedia.org)
The types of programming English Language Learners received are as followed. English Language Learners received assistance through one of the following options: 1. English as a Second Language: Students are taught mainly or entirely in English with some native tongue assistance. 2. Bilingual education programs- English Language Learners are taught in their native language how to learn English 3. Dual language programs or dual immersion programs: Subjects are taught in two languages in order to develop proficiency in both languages. Requirements for this program is that these programs must be fluent in English or be English learners.
In closing, in analyzing the three different state proposed legislatures of Colorado, Arizona and Massachusetts, they are all similar in objective. The difference is that Colorado initiative was not accepted. The similarity of three initiatives is that they were all fighting for English Immersion classes for English Language Learners. The English for the Children campaign was spear headed or supported in California, Arizona and Massachusetts by Ron Unz. In some states the percentages of English Language Learners is great in volume. Thus ESL they would ultimately benefit from the initiatives the most.
Colorado English Amendment 31(2002). Retrieved October 17, 2012.
Massachusetts English in Public Schools Initiative, Question 2 (2002 .Retrieved October 16, 2012 .www.ballotpedia.org/…/Massachusetts_English_in_Public_Schools_I…
Wright, W.E. (2005). The political spectacle of Arizona’s Proposition 203. Educational Policy,