California Republicans Vote to Restore “Bilingual Education”

Ron Unz, Unz Review, May 7, 2014

After almost seventeen years history may be about to repeat itself in California politics, though perhaps with a strong element of farce. Late last week, the Senate Education Committee voted 8-to-0 to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot repealing Prop. 227 and restoring “bilingual education” in California public schools. The long-dormant Language Wars may be returning to American politics, and based on the early indicators, the G.O.P. may have totally abandoned any support for English in the schools, with not a single Republican casting a No vote on the proposal.

Although many might be surprised by this political alignment, I am not. When I launched my “English for the Children” initiative effort in 1997 to replace California’s failed system of Spanish-almost-only “bilingual education” with intensive English immersion, I sought to avoid the political partisanship that could easily taint a project touching upon delicate ethnic issues. As matters turned out, I got my wish, and our campaign was among the most bipartisan in state history, being opposed by nearly every prominent Democrat and also nearly every prominent Republican.

Requiring that English be taught in public schools was opposed by the Chairman of the state Republican Party and the Chairman of the State Democratic Party, as well as all four party leaders in the State Senate and Assembly. President Bill Clinton came out to California to campaign against us. All four candidates for governor, Democrat and Republican alike, denounced the measure and together starred in a powerful television spot urging a No vote, ranked by many as the best advertisement of that election cycle. We were opposed by every California union, every political slate, and almost every newspaper editorial board, and were outspent on advertising by a ratio of 25-to-1. But despite this daunting array of influential opponents, our initiative still passed with one of the largest political landslides of any contested measure in state history, winning over 61 percent of the vote.

As is traditional with California initiatives, our critics hoped to win in the courtroom what they had lost at the ballot box and bilingual advocates immediately sued to block the law. However, in the weeks that followed, four separate federal judges ruled in favor of Prop. 227 and the law that had passed in the June vote began to be implemented statewide as the new school year began in September. All of California’s thousand-odd school districts were required to teach young immigrant children in English as soon as they started school, though some bitterly resisted and dragged their feet.

The consequences were quite remarkable. Although nearly every state newspaper had editorially opposed the change in educational policy, once their journalists began visiting the schools to report the results of such a sweeping educational transformation, the many dozens of major media stories produced were uniformly glowing, with teachers, parents, and children all very happy with the change, and everyone surprised how quickly and easily the students were learning English in the classroom.

The following year, academic test scores for a million-plus immigrant students in California rose substantially, confounding naysayers and putting the story back on the front pages of the major state newspapers. And in 2000, immigrant test scores continued their rise, leading to a front-page story in the Sunday New York Times and major coverage in the rest of the national media. The founding president of the California Association of Bilingual Educators publicly declared that he had been wrong for thirty years and bilingual education didn’t work while English immersion did work, becoming a born-again convert to “English” and appearing on CBS News and the PBS Newshour to make his case.

During the first four years following the passage of Prop. 227, the academic performance of over a million immigrant schoolchildren taught in English roughly doubled, while those school districts that stubbornly retained their bilingual education programs showed no improvement whatsoever. English-learners in English immersion classes academically outperformed their counterparts in holdover bilingual education programs in every subject, every grade level, and every year, racking up performance advantage of 80-to-0.

The political trends showed a similar trajectory, with Arizona voters passing an almost identical ballot measure by an even wider 26 point margin in November 2000 and the electorate of Massachusetts, arguably America’s most liberal state, favoring “English” by a colossal 32 point landslide in 2002, incidentally putting supporter Mitt Romney in the governorship as a political side-effect. Then in 2003, Nativo Lopez, one of California’s most diehard remaining backers of bilingual education, was recalled from office in Santa Ana by Latino parents outraged over his opposition to “English,” losing by a 40 point margin in America’s most heavily Latino immigrant major city.

With that last landslide vote over a decade ago in America’s most heavily Latino immigrant city, resistance to “English” completely crumbled and bilingual education largely disappeared from schools in California and much of the rest of the country while even the term itself almost completely vanished from public discourse or media coverage.


And inevitably, the Prop. 227 educational revolution has produced a generation of mostly bilingual young adults. After all, a large fraction of California Latinos are raised in Spanish-speaking households, and learn that language as children. Meanwhile, they now learn to read and write and speak mainstream English as soon as they enter school, while often continuing to speak Spanish at home with their parents and other family members. Thus, millions of younger Californians have ended up with complete fluency in both languages, effortlessly switching between the two, as I have personally often noticed in Palo Alto, a town in which perhaps half the ordinary daily workers are Hispanic in origin.


But politics abhors a vacuum and although almost everyone else has forgotten the topic of bilingual education over the last dozen years, the small number of bilingual zealots have remained just as committed as ever to their failed dogma. I doubt that there ever numbered more than just a few hundred hardcore bilingual activist supporters among California’s population of over thirty million, but their years of unopposed private lobbying and spurious academic research have now borne fruit. California politicians are hardly deep thinkers and term limits ensured that few of them had been prominent in public life during the late 1990s. Hence the 8-to-0 committee vote to reestablish bilingual education in California.

In reviewing the last twenty years of domestic policy battles in America, the replacement of bilingual education with English immersion in our public schools may rank as just about the only clear success for policies traditionally advocated by conservatives and Republicans–at least no other obvious example comes to mind. Meanwhile, the disastrous political choices made by California Republicans during the 1990s have placed what was once the most powerful Republican state party in America on the very edge of irrelevance and a descent into minor-party status.

For California Republicans to back the restoration of failed bilingual education programs would probably mark the final nail in their coffin, and rightfully so.

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  • Not surprised the Mexifornia Republicans are so far gone. After all, only one in the State House had the gumption not to vote against the Confederate Flag.

  • crystalevans

    Most immigrants want their children to learn English. They know that in order to succeed in this country, their children must be fluent in English.

    • I agree, but I’m starting to wonder if learning English is as important as it once was. It seems these days that speaking Spanish or whatever third-world voodoo language one arrives in the U.S. with is more important than speaking proper and intelligible English. It hasn’t deterred the Mexican invaders, that’s for sure.

      • The Verdict of History

        I’ve always said that the value of learning a foreign language for an English speaker is exaggerated by multiculaturalist educators.

        English, as the Lingua Franca of civilization – and the language of widespread preference in technology, programming, finance, diplomacy, international trade, medicine and science – is THE language of repute and record.

        If anything, our lovely “Mexican invaders” ought to feel an obligation to learn English, not visa versa.

        The onus is on THEM, not us.

        English First! English Only!

        • Black Swan

          In Mexico, Mexican parents understand that to get ahead in this world English is required. Ditto for China. They import English teachers from America to work with children as soon as they’re born so they speak accentless English.

          All the world wants to speak English except in America.

          • Anglokraut

            And in England.

    • dd121

      That used to be true but now there are areas where they are so concentrated they can do quite nicely with Spanish only.

      • Black Swan

        Sure, if one doesn’t mind living in abject poverty with no hope of ever getting ahead, beholden and dependent forever to the government for all your basic needs.

        • dd121

          I think you’d be surprised just how many people fit into that category.

          • Black Swan

            …and either don’t mind or have been taught to blame old Whitey for all his failures…including Mexicans straight from Mexico.

    • sbuffalonative

      This new group of ‘immigrants’ want to hold onto their own heritage and they wonder why they never advance.

    • Anon

      Most non-whites who come here are not immigrants. They are various forms of violent criminals, drug dealers, con artists, prostitutes and many out and out slaves (dragged here in chains until they are worked to death or chained to basement walls for gay pedophiles to rape while getting their drugs at the local crackhouse).
      These people do not intend to stay. When the money runs out, so will they.

  • MekongDelta69

    Why bother beating around the bush?

    Just make Spanish the only language allowed in Mexifornia.

    • So CAL Snowman

      It’s funny, CA has its’ own state Constitution and it states that English is the official language of CA. But who cares about such things in the New World Order of 2014 right?

      ARTICLE 3 section 6 (a)

      “English is the common language of the people of the United States
      of America and the State of California. This section is intended to
      preserve, protect and strengthen the English language, and not to
      supersede any of the rights guaranteed to the people by this
      (b) English as the Official Language of California.
      English is the official language of the State of California.
      (c) Enforcement.
      The Legislature shall enforce this section by appropriate
      legislation. The Legislature and officials of the State of
      California shall take all steps necessary to insure that the role of
      English as the common language of the State of California is
      preserved and enhanced. The Legislature shall make no law which
      diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common language of
      the State of California.
      (d) Personal Right of Action and Jurisdiction of Courts.
      Any person who is a resident of or doing business in the State of
      California shall have standing to sue the State of California to
      enforce this section, and the Courts of record of the State of
      California shall have jurisdiction to hear cases brought to enforce
      this section. The Legislature may provide reasonable and appropriate
      limitations on the time and manner of suits brought under this

      • MekongDelta69

        The ‘flaw’ in the above is that you’re using reason, rationale, common sense, logic, life experience, and those oh-so-annoying things called facts.

        They have no place in today’s ‘enlightened’ America.

  • DudeWheresMyCountry?

    More Republican groveling to people who will never support them. Don’t vote for either party. I will never vote Republican again which means until there is drastic change to our political landscape I will not be voting any longer.

  • Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that Republicans supported “bilingual education” in California’s public schools. They’ve managed to do everything in their power to support the Mexican invasion and to promote policies that will forever change the racial and cultural landscape of America.

    When more and more white Americans realize that they’ve been racially and culturally displaced by a non-white, third-world Amerindian peasant culture, they can be sure to thank BOTH the Democrats and Republicans for playing such a large part in it.

    Any conservative who thinks the GOP has the interests of whites at heart better think again. They are treasonous to the core!

    • mobilebay

      But it’s only done as an “act of love.”

  • tetrapod

    “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
    – Theodore Roosevelt

    Ah, the good ol’ days when we were a confident, virile nation, and not the bunch of pussies progressives we are now.

  • Ringo Lennon

    The only only people not speaking English are Mexicans. On account of them we can’t have English as the official language. These people are trouble across the boards.

  • So CAL Snowman

    I support this legislation 100%. It’s going to need a major (unpopular) tax increase to come up with the additional funding to implement this program and it’s going to wreak havoc on hispanc/mexican education as they will continue to fall farther and farther behind the Whites and Asians. I will be the last White man standing in CA, and then it will be all mine!

    • neverevrland

      Looking back on this I can see that it was a huge mistake for whites to have supported this legislation. It let whites in CA, temporarily at least, escape having to deal with one of the very real consequences of racial and cultural balkanization that happens when you have such a massive flood of foreigners occupying territory. They also gave a boost to any hispanic job applicant who applies for a job working with the public. Now that they are “officially” the majority population of the state, what we may be seeing is a flexing of political muscle, and a window into more such action. La Reconquista bebe !

    • WR_the_realist

      You forget that you live in a democracy. Those Mexicans are rapidly outbreeding white Californians, have a plurality in your state, and will soon have a majority. It doesn’t matter if they can’t speak English — they will be your overlords no matter how poor they are, because they outnumber everyone else. After all, how would you feel being the last white man standing in Detroit? What good would it do you?

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    English is the international language of business, science and technology and the American Indian version of Spanish is the language of… well, nothing. Introducing another medium of communication into the US will decrease economic efficiency by negatively affecting national productivity. American bilingualism is just another elitist attempt to hasten America’s transformation into a third world country.

    • sbuffalonative

      The come here they say for a better life. They hold onto their old ways and wonder why they don’t advance in their new home.

  • Michael OSullivan

    After reading, it may be better if we don’t teach them English. It is the Joooish principle ‘what is bad for other races is good for your race’.

  • teaisstronger


    Stay home until someone wants to win enough that they will do what we want them to do. Let greedy GOP candidates loose elections from now on an forever if necessary. With a totally Democrat Communist nation, people will rebel and there will be a breakup. The breakup will not happen if people vote GOP hoping for the best because there will never be a best.


    • Black Swan

      Complete and total separation of the races is the only way now. Each race deserves its own living space to determine the destiny of its members without having some nonWhite overlord telling us what we may or may not say or do.

  • teaisstronger


    Freedom is the only thing worth dieing for. Its the only thing every animal will die to obtain. Animals will chew off their legs and arms to be free. They will refuse to eat or reproduce in captivity. What is holding you back?

  • RHG

    Well, this is a window on how the country will be run if the Democrats get an amnesty and permanent majority rule. The Republicans, or what is left of them, will only be “Republican” in name only. For all intents and purposes, they will be Democrats, voting like Democrats so they can individually hold on to the perks public office offers. California is really a “one party system”.

    • mobilebay

      I call both parties AINOs – Americans in name only!

  • IKUredux

    Let’s see, the Spanish word for computer is? The Spanish word for television is? The Spanish word for rocket ship is? So, riiight, White people here should learn Spanish because Mexicans have come up with so many innovations, that we are forced CONSTANTLY to Englishize their Spanish words. Yet, when we turn their word “fiesta” into a clever spelling of “phiesta”, we are accused of:(can you fing believe it?) cultural appropriation! Excuse me, but you s.o.b.s are being allowed to get away with country appropriation. We need to stop this. Rebel at every opportunity.

    • TXCriollo

      I speak spanish i tell the aztecs every day, if your going to speak my language please do not destroy it

    • Alexandra1973

      Want to know what the Spanish for blue jeans is?

      Los blue-jeans. I kid you not. Learned this in Spanish class, 7th grade, in 1985.

      That’s also when we were told that Spanish was the USA’s second official language.

  • IstvanIN

    Every nation should have an official language that binds the people together, especially a country with multiple ethnic groups. California should make Spanish its official language rather than all these other hoohaw, half-way measures.

    • TXCriollo

      They tried that in Texas the mexican americans shot it down, but again this is the peoples socialist republic of mexifornia so english will need to go

  • mobilebay

    No matter how many hits we take, I still find it impossible to believe that we’ve fought enemies here and abroad since the inception of this country – enemies who were our equal in weapons, military strength, intelligence, etc. Yet, we now surrender to third world Hispanics who simply walk in and take over. Of course, they are aided and abetted by our own government.

    • TXCriollo

      Not hispanic but aztecs with the white liberals they have little stopping them

    • Roninf9

      Hispanics and blacks are merely biological weapons of mass social destruction. Who wields these weapons? Take one guess.

      • Alexandra1973

        Given that Mexico is predominantly Catholic….

        • Roninf9

          That Mexico is Catholic is incidental. Its only Catholic because the Spanish were Catholic when they colonized the place hundreds of years ago. The Mexican as WMSD is a relatively recent phenomenon. Its not the Catholic church that changed our laws in the 1960’s or can force every State in the Union to accept illegal aliens. The Church is an enabler I’ll give you that, a co-conspirator, but more of a junior partner.

  • rmk948

    Every objective educational scholar who has studied the issue has concluded that immersion in English from the earliest possible age offers the best outcomes for non-English-speaking children. Anyone who has ever been exposed to preschoolers in day care settings is amazed at how rapidly kids soak up a foreign language. California Republicans seem to have a true death wish.

  • Luca

    This is only about money and using emotion to pass a harmful law. Politicians are undaunted by repeated, proven failure of bilingual education, or the common sense, success record and logic of English immersion.

    This will simply mean more money for the educational books and aids printed in Spanish, more money for bilingual teachers and consequently more money for the unions.

    Meanwhile, the children will feel further divided and this will seriously delay any hopes of assimilation.

    The decline continues at a rapid pace.

  • JMorphy88

    May Allah destroy this land.

  • willbest

    This is self preservation by the white elite political class. When the Hispanics were just displacing low skill blue collar workers and driving down wages among the working class all was well. But apparently too many of them are getting a book lear’n and are in a position to question why Hispanics shouldn’t control things given they are a few short years away from a natural majority.

  • Greg Thomas

    We wouldn’t even be discussing this if we simply defended our borders and deported illegal invaders.

  • WR_the_realist

    Once again we see evidence that regardless of the average IQ of whites in general, Republican politicians must have an average IQ below that of blacks and Hispanics. After all, they always get outsmarted by them.

  • MikeofAges

    Hispanic parents want their children to learn English. They are realistic to the extent that they know that coming to America means that your progeny eventually will be American. That process will fail only when and where their numbers overwhelm the system. As much as their are a few area which seem to Spanish mandatory, I guarantee you, in those areas, the business owners and administrative employees are bilingual, even if the other workers and the many of the customers are not.

  • kjh64

    Forty years from now in the USA, “press 2 for English”. Ten years from now in California-“press 2 for English”.LOL

  • archer

    English immersion is good for students and the country, that’s the problem, the leftist commies aren’t interested in what’s good for the country but what will hasten it’s demise the fastest. If it hasn’t become apparent to the masses yet god help us.

  • Urbane Neanderthal

    What the poor Hispanics don’t realize, is this is designed to limit their access to power.

    A certain group of very powerful political and business elites such as “Mexican” LA mayor Gil Garcetti (actually Jewish) want to keep and increase the mestizos as voters to keep them in power and as a group to fleece, but do not want them attaining real power through education.

    By limiting their English skills they can keep them out of the universities and thus not lose political control to mestizos.

    • IstvanIN

      Yup, they want a stratified Latin American society north of the Rio Grande.


    Notice that it didn’t take but 8 votes to get it on the ballot [it probably needed a majority of only 5]. If citizens want to put something on a ballot, they have to get eighteen bazillion signatures on a petition. This case is a good example why the legislature should be required to follow the same petition process as any citizen.

  • Ograf

    Not only should English be the only language taught in our schools, all government forms should be in English only with no translation service provided. Fluency in English should be one of the main requirements for legal citizenship in U.S.A.

  • Peter Connor

    Just goes to show that the stupid (Republicans) will be always with us. Always trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Kit Ingoldby

    So the Hispanics are going to hurt themselves and lock themselves out of all decent, good jobs.

    And the problem is?

  • IstvanIN

    All citizens should have the right to address the government and lobby for whatever they want, but they should have to do it on their dime, not the taxpayers. The most egregious examples of this are the La Raza and black Muslim groups that receive government funding while terrorizing the White community.

  • MBlanc46

    It’s pretty much a done deal. Those of us who aren’t Spanish speakers will be at a greater and greater disadvantage.

  • PvtCharlieSlate

    Just for the grins …
    I once had working for me a Haitian (who wasn’t terribly bright to begin with) who had learned his “English” from Puerto Ricans. Basically, he had his very own language and, when it wasn’t frustrating, it could be entertaining.

  • messierval

    Bilingual ed never went away. It was simply redefined as immersion and has continued to be taught – at least in San Francisco. In San Fran, you can spend most of the school day studying subject matter in Spanish, Cantonese or Mandarin.