Skip to main content

Proposition 58 – English Language Education

Printer-friendly version

Official Title:

English language education.


On September 28, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1174 (Lara) to place a measure on the ballot that would propose to repeal certain provisions of Proposition 227, which was enacted in 1998.

In June of 1998, Proposition 227 was passed by 61 percent of the California electorate.  The initiative was intended to significantly alter the ways in which the state’s English learners (ELs) are taught.  Proposition 227 requires that ELs be taught “overwhelmingly in English” through sheltered/structured English immersion (SEI) programs during “a temporary transition period not normally intended to exceed one year,” and then transferred to mainstream English-language classrooms.

Proposition 58 would repeal the requirements of Proposition 227 that all children be taught English by being taught in English and instead allows school districts and county offices of education, in consultation with language experts in the field and parents, to determine the best language instruction methods and language acquisition programs to implement.

Fiscal Impact:

According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee (which analyzed Senate Bill 1174), this proposal would result in one-time General Fund costs of approximately $115,000, ongoing costs of approximately $48,000, for the California Department of Education to revise guidance and oversight to ensure the state continues to meet federal requirements to provide certain services to English learners as a protected class.  These costs include staff training, technical support to the field and updating materials.

CCC Position:

No position


Supporters of Proposition 58 include the California Federation of Teachers, the California School Boards Association, and the California Language Teachers’ Association. 

Supporters believe that too many California students are being left behind and not given the opportunity to learn English with the most effective teaching methods possible because Proposition 227, passed nearly 20 years ago, restricts the instructional methods school districts can use to teach English.  Supporters assert that Proposition 58 will remove these restrictions by requiring schools to continue to offer a structured English immersion program to English learners, but it will also allow schools to adopt other language instruction methods based on research and stakeholder input. 

Moreover, supporters state that this proposition will expand opportunities for English speakers to learn a second language.  Students proficient in English and a second language will be more employable, start out earning higher wages, and make California’s workforce better prepared to compete for jobs in the global economy.  


Opponents of Proposition 58 include English for the Children and the California Association of Bilingual Educators.

Opponents state that, for decades, millions of Latino children were forced into Spanish-almost-only classes, and this was an educational disaster that never worked.  In 1998, however, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 227, the “English for the Children” initiative, which provides sheltered English immersion to immigrant students and requires that they be taught English as soon as they start school.  Within four years of its passage, the test scores of over a million immigrant students in California increased by 30%, 50%, or even 100%.  Since Proposition 227 passed, opponents assert that there has been a huge increase in the number of Latinos scoring high enough to gain admission to the prestigious University of California system. 

Opponents claim that Proposition 58 would allow the Legislature to reestablish Spanish-almost-only instruction in the public schools by a simple majority vote, once again forcing Latino children into those classes against their parents’ wishes. 

Reflections on Church Teaching:

The growth of inequality and poverty undermines inclusive and participatory democracy at risk which always presupposes an economy and an equitable and nonexclusive market. It is a question, therefore, of overcoming the structural causes of inequality and poverty. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wished to point out three fundamental instruments for the social inclusion of the most needy: education, access to health care and employment for all (cf. n. 192).  Angelus, Oct. 21, 2014, St. Peter’s Square

The way to overcome the uncertainty and isolation which makes us vulnerable to so many apparent solutions… can be found on different levels. One is through legislation which protects and guarantees the bare necessities of life so that every home and every person can develop through education and dignified employment.  Address at Meeting with Families in the “Víctor Manuel Reyna” Stadium, Feb 15, 2016

The task of education is to make us sense that the world and society are also our home; it trains us how to live together in this greater home.  Amoris Laetitia, no. 276

"It is incumbent on those who exercise authority to strengthen the values that inspire the confidence of the members of the group and encourage them to put themselves at the service of others. Participation begins with education and culture. One is entitled to think that the future of humanity is in the hands of those who are capable of providing the generations to come with reasons for life and optimism."  Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1917.

“In the diversity of cultures, the natural law unites peoples, enjoining common principles. Although its application may require adaptations to the many different conditions of life according to place, time and circumstances,[270] it remains immutable “under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress ... Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies.” Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church [14]

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me." (Mt 25:35)

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.  Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens."  Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2241.

Visit for more information on Education issues in California.

See also: Proposition 51