BILINGUAL: [adjective] (of a person) speaking two languages fluently [Noun] a person fluent in two languages
If you live in California, you have undoubtedly met your fair share of bilingual people. Whether it be at work, in the street, or at school. According to the 2020 census, 39% of all Californians are Latino. 35% are white, 15% are Asian/Pacific Islander, 5% are black, 4% are multiracial, and fewer than 1% are Native American or Alaska Native. That is an overwhelming amount of people who likely speak at least 2 languages. Statista.com states that as of 2021, close to 44% of California’s population speaks a language other than English. The most common among those languages is Spanish.
Almost 30 years ago in 1996, California public schools were forcing thousands of Latino children into Spanish-almost-only classes against their parents' wishes. Many parents protested this. They boycotted classes and marched outside schools with picket signs while demanding that their children be taught English like every other student.
That protest inspired the “English for the Children” initiative campaign, which began the following year. Proposition 227 required California public schools to teach children English from their first day of classes, placing children who didn’t know English into an intensive sheltered English immersion program to teach them the language as quickly as possible, then moving them into the regular classes with all the other children.
This showed almost immediate positive academic results. Within 4 years, the test scores of over 1 million immigrant children had increased by upwards of 50%. Many more Latino students were also gaining admission to top colleges. This was shown to have a direct correlation with them learning English very early on now. They could understand their classes much easier and could then perform well academically.
This data pales in comparison to previous stats before they allowed Latino students to learn English from their first day. Their overall performance academically has improved greatly. Do not let this distract you from the generations of Latino students who possibly could have done more had they had better guidance. In the year 1980, Latino college students only encompassed about 4% of all students. This increased to 10% in 2000. By 2020, ⅕ of all college students were Latino (pewresearch.org). Supposed Bilingual Education programs have been proven to be ineffective in the past. All many families can hope for now is that schools will keep the current system that has been shown to truly benefit them.