Bilingual education should be optional, not mandatory. There are states, such as Illinois, that mandate bilingual education.
This paper describes the programs and practices used in Illinois’ Diamond Lake School District 76, which achieved remarkable gains in English reading and math test scores by implementing its own alternative “Sheltered English” program that teaches English language learner students primarily in English. While the district is small, its population is diverse, and there are many reasons to believe its successes can be replicated in other, larger school districts.
Good teachers in classrooms are essential for a successful school experience for English language learners. Due to the documented shortage of good bilingual teachers in Illinois, a mandated bilingual education policy places English language learners in classrooms that are not adequately staffed.
Good teachers need an effective curriculum to help English language learners achieve and succeed in school. There is a documented shortage of instructional material available in languages other than English, including Spanish, compounding the problems of mandating bilingual education.
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