Bilingual Education Act Essay

Bilingual Education Act Essay

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Bilingual education is defined as involving the use of two languages as media of intrusions (May, 2008). It is an educational process that aims to promote and “maintain longer-term student bilingualism and bi-literacy, adding another language to, but not subtracting from the student’s existing language repertoire” (May, 2008, p. 19-20). Simply, bilingual education is the use of more than one language to deliver curriculum content.

Bilingual education Act (BEA) was enacted into law in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of the War on Poverty. The policy expressed U.S. commitment to the needs of the growing number of children in the public schools whose first language was not English (Petrzela, 2010). This commitment was articulated as President Johnson signed the bill into law:

Thousands of children of Latin descent, young Indians, and others will get a better start— better chance—in school. . . .We are now giving every child in America a better chance to touch his outermost limits. . . . We have begun a campaign to unlock the full potential of every boy and girl—regardless of his race, or his religion, or his father’s income. (Sanchez, 1973)

Bilingual education policy is political activity replete with historical, social, cultural, and economic contexts (Crawford, 2000; Tolleson & Tsui, 2004). It is linked to legislation, court decisions, and executive actions. (Gandara & Gomez, 2009). The BEA came at an exceptional period of domestic upheaval, demographic transformation, and on the heel of the civil right movement. The Act created a channel to provide states and local education districts with funds, personnel assistance, and other incentives for the development of bilingual education program.

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...on helped direct large sums of federal money into education for space research, and language programs. The Soviet launching of Sputniks seemed to overshadow race, religion, state rights and other issues that had blocked previous attempts (Forrest & Kinser, 2002). One of the great accomplishment of the time was the passage the National Defense Education Act, 1958 (NDEA). This act provided aid to both public and private schools at all levels to advance the areas of science, math, and modern foreign languages. The act also provided aid to English as a Second Language programs. According to Forrest and Kinser:

The importance of the NDEA rests not on its specific provisions, but on its psychological breakthrough. For the first time in nearly a century, the federal government displayed interest in the quality of education that public and private provided. (p. 240)


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