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Conflict Concerning Non-English Learners

Updated on October 13, 2014

Conflict Concerning English Language Learners

​According to Bank Street College of Education (2009), by the year 2020 over one out of every three children will come from homes where English is not the primary language. In just New York City alone, there are over 100 different languages present in the public school system (Bank Street College of Education, 2009).

​Many individuals claim that the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution guarantees educational rights of minorities and immigrants. That the United States government guarantees “that no State can make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens; nor deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor deny equal protection of the laws”. However, a growing amount of states is starting to cut out bilingual education programs within public schools.

​For example, Proposition 227, Article II, Section 8, is also commonly referred to as the English Language in Public Schools Statue, eliminated many bilingual education programs. Proposition 227 stated that there should be special classes which teaches children English, which usually does not last longer than a year, then the student should move to the primary classrooms. However, critics of this proposition state this bill is unfair to children who do not speak English as a first language, since they are placed in classrooms not able to fully understand the teacher and their assignments.

​Another example of a law that is concerned with bilingual educational programs is the No Child Left Behind Act. This act reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which is involved with federal funding of grades kindergarten to 12th grade. However, many critics of this law claim that the NCLB act is contradictory of bilingual education, placing high standardized testing standards in English on children who do not speak much, or any of English. Then when the schools receive low scores on the standardized tests, the school makes less money, and then are forced to cut programs, many times the bilingual education programs.

​To conclude, there have been an increasing amount of laws which either abandon bilingual educational programs, heavily limit them, or are completely contrary to them. However, while the adults argue whether they are for these laws or against them, the ones that are really suffering are the children. Many children do not speak English, or know English as a second language, and they need an education just as any other child does.


English Language Learners. (2009, April 18). Retrieved April 18, 2009, from ​
United States Department of Education. (2009, April 18). No Child Left Behind - ED. Gov. ​Retrieved April 18, 2009, from


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I'm all for different approaches for different kids. As a bilingual learner myself, I did not have and did not need a bilingual program to excel in English in school, but every child is different and learns differently. A bilingual program would be the last to be cut in a perfect world, but alas... this is no perfect world. It's a shame what's happening to our entire education system amidst such cuts.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      These plans for our children's education always seem to backfire and leave those who really need such programs as bilingual ones to end up losing what they need.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Odd for a country up to 75% of whose population since the time of the Civil War probably did not originate in an English speaking environment. It reflects in the current raft of TV sit-coms that have come out of the US, in the cast lists and writers' names.

      We have our biases as well here in the UK, although legislation means ethnic origin is no barrier and original culture of individuals has to be respected.

      Nevertheless state schools only teach minority languages where there are funds. Generally French and German come into the curriculum, other languages are only taught if and/or when staff are available to teach them. Families will teach their children their own language within a family environment, and shouldn't expect the state to do what they themselves can do, possibly better - or through private tuition at the family's own expense.

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 

      4 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      There are adult English classes for non-English-speaking people, but they may not be widely available in all areas, and they may or may not be free -- and adults don't learn a second language as readily as children do.

      My take on the subject is that all kids in school should be expected to learn English, and the schools need to do whatever it takes for them to get up to speed as quickly and competently as possible. This may mean different approaches for different kids.

      Immigrants in former times were expected to learn English without the help of ESL in school, but the world is much more complex now and kids are expected to learn a lot more than they did even 50 years ago. It is to everyone's benefit for everyone coming out of school to have a strong command of the English language; they'll be much more productive citizens.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image


      4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Even those of us who know English need to be taught how to speak it and Americans slaughter it, but that's a different story. Children who don't know English in this country need to be taught just like we are. And it starts in the home. Spanish speaking parents need to learn English as well. Why can't there be English classes for adults, too? In Europe, most of the students know at least 2 or 3 languages. Why should we be any different?

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      4 years ago from Washington, DC

      Well you're fortunate that you first language. Not all people in the world have that luxury. You should be ashamed of yourself. Your, actually made me feel ill, and I am completely disappointed in you. Please never reply on any of my hubs ever again. Or they will all be deleted.


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