Original URL: http://cfapp.rockymountainnews.com/election02/index.cfm?issueDetail=30

Amendment 31 - English Language Education

Ballot wording: Shall there be an
amendment to the Colorado constitution
concerning English-language education in
Colorado public schools, and, in connection
therewith, requiring children to be taught by
using the English language in their classrooms
and requiring children who are learning English
to be placed in an English immersion program
that is intended to last one year or less and, if
successful, will result in placement of such
children in ordinary classrooms; exempting
from such requirements those children whose
parents or legal guardians obtain annual
waivers allowing the children to transfer to
classes using bilingual education or other educational methodologies, but
making such waivers very difficult to obtain because the school can grant
them only in very restrictive circumstances and can deny them for any
reason or no reason thereby reducing the likelihood that bilingual
education will be used; requiring schools that grant any waivers to offer
bilingual education or other educational methodologies when they have at
least 20 students in the same grade who receive a waiver and in all other
cases permitting students to transfer to a public school in which bilingual
education or other methodologies are offered, with the cost of such
transfer, excluding transportation, to be provided by the state; allowing a
parent or legal guardian to sue public employees granting a waiver if the
parent or guardian later concludes that the waiver was granted in error and
injured the child's education; creating severe legal consequences identified
in the amendment for such public employees who willfully and repeatedly
refuse to implement the amendment; and requiring schools to test
children learning English, enrolled in second grade or higher, to monitor
their progress, using a standardized nationally-normed test of academic
subject matter given in English?
Full amendment text

Texto en Espanol

Source: Secretary of State

The proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution:
-- requires that all public school students be taught in English unless they
are exempted under the proposal;
-- requires students who do not speak English (English learners) to be
taught English through English language immersion programs and to be
transferred to a regular classroom, generally after one year;
-- allows parents or legal guardians to request a waiver from English
immersion requirements under certain circumstances and gives schools the
power to approve or deny the request;
-- authorizes a parent or legal guardian to sue for enforcement of the
-- requires all English learners in grades two through twelve to be tested
annually in English using a nationally standardized test of academic
subject matter
Source: Colorado Legislative Council Blue Book

1) English learners should learn English as quickly as possible so that they
are not left behind their English-speaking peers. Current programs,
including bilingual education, have not adequately addressed the needs of
English learners, and this proposal provides a different approach. Under
the proposal, English learners will be taught in English and placed into a
school's regular academic program after one year. Learning English quickly
will enable English learners to develop the necessary skills and knowledge
to improve their future education and career choices.
2) Colorado should have a consistent statewide policy for teaching English
learners. English learners who move between school districts should not
encounter different programs, which only delays their academic progress.
Further, students should not be used as a part of educational
experiments, as school districts try out different approaches to English
instruction. School districts should focus on students' acquisition of solid
English skills, rather than the maintenance of native language skills. The
proposal provides a consistent philosophy for school districts, while
allowing school districts enough flexibility to tailor programs to their
students' needs.
3) The proposal prevents classroom segregation of children based on
language. Once English learners become reasonably fluent in English, they
will be transferred into regular classrooms, increasing their opportunities to
practice and use English. In addition, cultural awareness and interaction
between children of different backgrounds will enhance the education of all
Source: Colorado Legislative Council Blue Book

1) The proposal restricts parental choice and local control of education.
Many parents want their children to develop skills in more than one
language so that they will be better prepared to live and work within a
global economy. By requiring that all instruction be in English, the proposal
limits the ability of school districts to offer innovative language programs,
even if the programs are effective and respond to the needs and wishes of
the school community. In addition, school districts may be cautious in
granting waiver requests from parents seeking different programs because
of the possibility of legal action against the school and its employees.
2) The speed by which a student learns cannot be mandated by law. The
proposal creates an unrealistic expectation that English can be learned by
all children in one year. However, the speed by which a child becomes
fluent in English depends on the child's age, cultural circumstances,
previous education, and socioeconomic background. Some children may
take longer than one year to achieve a level of proficiency comparable to
their English-speaking peers. If programs are too rigid, students'
individual needs may not be met.
3) The proposal adds another layer of testing requirements for English
learners. School districts will have to test English learners in English every
year using a national test in addition to the Colorado Student Assessment
Program (CSAP) tests. The additional testing for English learners means
further administrative expense and time away from classroom teaching.

Source: Colorado Legislative Council Blue Book


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