Controversial move fails to cause chaos

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 September, 1999, 12:00am

Like New York, California has large numbers of immigrants, many of whom do not speak English. Spanish, Chinese and other languages are widely spoken, especially in large cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For many years government schools in the state were forced to provide bilingual education for children whose first language was not English.

From the beginning, these programmes were controversial. A campaign was launched recently to make them illegal in government schools.

The proposal was opposed by government offi cials, most leading newspapers and the education establishment.

Bilingual teachers predicted trau ma for their students. Educators said it would cause chaos in the classrooms.

When the proposal was finally put to a ballot, it was supported by 61 per cent of voters.

The change took effect last September. Teachers around the state said students were picking up English quickly. Tests at the end of the year showed no evidence of trauma or chaos. Students in English immersion classes had made just as much progress in all subjects as students in regular classes.