California isn’t even close to a swing state in the 2016 presidential election, but that doesn’t mean nothing is at stake for voters in the nation’s largest state.
After Tuesday’s vote, hundreds of thousands of California schoolchildren may start attending classes primarily en español, thanks to a voter referendum that would repeal the requirement that schools teach primarily in English.
California’s Proposition 58 would repeal Proposition 227, a measure that easily passed nearly two decades ago, in 1998. Proposition 227 required all public schools in the state teach “overwhelmingly” in English, with limited-English proficiency (LEP) students transitioning to fully English classes as quickly as possible.
Across the state, the English proficiency of LEP students tripled in just a few years, and math scores rose as well.
But now, with California’s immigrant population higher than ever, the state is poised to reverse course.
Polls indicate the Proposition 58 is likely to pass. Ironically, supporters of the measure place an emphasis on English rather than foreign tongues. They argue that the bill will allow for “dual immersion” programs, where both native English and native Spanish speakers can learn in a bilingual environment. In the long run, they argue, this will increase multilingualism and provide the state with a competitive advantage.