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This chapter analyzes major shifts in US educational policies toward bilingual education in California, where voters are often called on to decide policy by voting on propositions. It focuses on: how language policies have functioned as an instrument of social control; the lingering impact of the Americanization century and English-only ideologies on contemporary educational policies; the contemporary English-only movement and its impact on language minority education; and how a series of discriminatory propositions in California set the stage for language restriction in 1998. The chapter next looks at factors affecting the resurgence of bilingual education as “dual-language” education amidst discourses of globalization since 2016. The chapter concludes by noting new threats to immigrants posed by the criminalization of immigrant status and efforts to deny education as a human right. Implicit in this discussion are questions related to the relationship between language policy and racism and the salience of language policies in racial politics.
In recent years, public policy debates regarding language in the USA have centered largely on the acquisition of English and the extent to which speakers of “other” languages should be accommodated if they do not speak English. The focus on English dominates public discourse so much that even the mere suggestion by a presidential candidate that there are advantages for Americans in learning languages such as Spanish has been met with ridicule (Sidoti 2008), although the presence of Spanish in North America predates that of English (Chapter 4, this volume) and the USA is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world (González and Wiley 2007). In its history, the USA has had many policies related to language. Many educational policies at the state level focus on the promotion of English, which is certainly important because it is the dominant language that is necessary for social, economic, and political participation. But the issue of the value of promoting other languages is rarely addressed. Thus, the country lacks a comprehensive policy for the promotion of languages other than English. This chapter addresses the need for a comprehensive national language policy and what such a policy might look like.
This chapter will capture the interest of many readers because of its detailed discussion of recent, controversial voter initiatives restricting bilingual education in California (Proposition 227) and Arizona (Proposition 203). But these developments are historically situated in the emergence of the English-Only Movement of the 1980s and its opposition, the English-Plus alternative. The English-Only Movement in turn is contextualized in a much older ideology of English monolingualism in the USA, in favor of which arguments including antighettoization and national unity have been amassed.
Terrence Wiley precedes and intersperses his discussion of English monolingualism and the current English-Only and English-Plus movements with a general introduction to language planning and policy. He distinguishes among corpus planning, status planning, and acquisition planning, and classifies language policies according to whether they are promotion oriented, expediency oriented, tolerance oriented, restriction oriented, or repression oriented.
Wiley reminds us that issues of language policy and planning ultimately involve the influence and control of social behavior, and he challenges what he sees as the “philistine logic of conquer or be conquered” underlying the ideology of monolingualism. He closes with a series of questions for us to consider, including the extent to which other languages can be allowed to coexist and even benefit US society as a whole at the same time that the influence of English expands. This and similar questions are not just about languages, but about their speakers, and their rights, statuses, advantages, and disadvantages.
This chapter provides a brief introduction to the fields of language planning and language policy. It is divided into five major sections: The introduction addresses basic issues and assumptions which underlie and influence the direction of the study of language planning and policy. The second section discusses key definitions, describes various levels and types of language planning, and identifies those who are officially and unofficially involved in it. The third part contrasts influential scholarly orientations and approaches toward language planning and policy analysis and briefly reviews the work of several authorities in terms of their approaches. The next section describes and analyzes major goals for language planning, that is, language goals, political goals, and economic goals. The fifth section focuses on language in education planning and deals with two important legal challenges to established policies and practices. It also revisits a contentious debate over appropriate instruction for language minorities and considers issues of professional responsibility for linguists and language teachers. Next, it examines the impact of negative institutional language policies and practices and provides examples of positive steps that educators can take in promoting education for language minorities. In the discussion of issues, an attempt is made to maintain a critical stance toward controversial matters in order to avoid glossing over some of the underlying conflicts and tensions within the field. A brief conclusion completes the chapter.
Language planning is relatively young as a field of formal academic study, dating roughly from the 1960s.