Parents’ Guide to Bilingual Education

Published October 1, 1997

Because many foreign-born parents are unfamiliar with their rights as parents, they are often unaware that they can remove their children from bilingual programs if their children aren’t learning enough English. To help parents become more fully aware of their legal rights, the Center for Equal Opportunity has developed a Parents’ Guide to Bilingual Education.

The guide is written in both English and Spanish to reach those parents whose children are most affected by bilingual programs. Since three-quarters of all limited-English-proficient (LEP) children are Spanish-speaking, Hispanic children are the ones most likely to be subjected to what the Center calls “the damaging effects of bilingual education.”

In the guide, parents will find answers to the questions most frequently asked about bilingual education. But because the laws and rules governing bilingual education may vary significantly from one state to another, the guide offers a set of questions and answers for the ten states most likely to have such programs. Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas account for 86 percent of the children who need special help with English.

For each state, the guide also highlights some of the abuses of bilingual education that have occurred. For example, an investigation was launched in New Jersey into allegations that City of Passaic schools were placing Hispanic children into classes for the mentally retarded instead of English learner classes.

“With the help of this guide, parents will reach a better understanding of what bilingual education is all about,” says Center president Linda Chavez. “They will also become fully aware of their legal rights as parents, learn how to remove their children from harmful programs, and be able to make more informed decisions about their children’s education.”

The Parents’ Guide to Bilingual Education is available from the Center for Equal Opportunity, 815 15th Street NW #928, Washington, DC 20005. Telephone 202/639-0803; Parents’ Hotline 800/819-2343.