State Journal

Bilingual Education Debated in Texas

Board’s views unaltered after experts spar.

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints

The Texas board of education held a lively debate at its Feb. 9 meeting about whether bilingual education or structured English immersion is a better way to teach English to immigrant children.

When two Republicans on the board—President Geraldine Miller and Gail Lowe—invited two proponents of structured English immersion to talk about that method at the board meeting, two Democratic members—Joe J. Bernal and Mary Helen Berlanga—asked for equal time from proponents of bilingual education.

After the discussion, board members were still polarized in their views.

“I’m of the opinion that when it is correctly done, structured English immersion is the best model for teaching English fluency to non-native speakers,” said Ms. Lowe.

She said she was not trying to get rid of bilingual education in Texas, a step that would require legislative action, but would like to see more school districts offer structured English immersion as an option.

Expansion of structured English immersion in Texas is “a dead issue,” Ms. Berlanga said. She added, “If [the proponents] try to revive it, they are going to get a lot of very negative feedback.”

Texas is one of the few states—along with Illinois and New Mexico—that currently require districts to provide bilingual education programs, in which students are taught some subjects in their native languages while learning English. If a Texas district has at least 20 students of the same language group, it must offer bilingual education.

In California, Arizona, and Massachusetts, voters have approved ballot measures that made structured English immersion the default method for teaching English-language learners. In that method, all materials and instruction are provided in English, though some schools permit teachers to speak to students in their native languages to provide clarification.

Don Soifer, the executive vice president of the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank in Arlington, Va., was one of the presenters who spoke to the Texas board in support of structured English immersion. Stephen D. Krashen, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California, countered by telling board members that research shows that students in bilingual education do better on standardized tests than those in structured English immersion.

Vol. 25, Issue 24, Page 26

Published in Print: February 22, 2006, as Bilingual Education Debated in Texas

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >