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Supreme Court: Teaching in English Benefits Immigrants

July 28, 2009
Allan C. Brownfeld

In the case of Horne v. Flores, decided in June, the U.S. Supreme Court moved us further away from the philosophy of bilingual education, the theory in which immigrant children are segregated by language and taught largely in their native language — while learning English on the side.

The 5-4 decision, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., involved Arizona’s Nogales Unified School District. In l992, some students and parents in the district sued the state, claiming that it was not taking “appropriate action” to overcome barriers for English-language learners (ELLs). The state responded by implementing a program of Structured English Immersion (SEI).

The Supreme Court concluded: “Research on ELL instruction indicates there is documented academic support for the view that SEI is significantly more effective than bilingual education. Findings of the Arizona Department of Education in 2004 strongly support this conclusion.”

The Court also concluded that a lower court had failed to adequately consider whether the Nogales school district’s implementation of SEI was a “changed circumstance” warranting release from the initial court order.

The story continues …..

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