The Legislature finds that there are more than 288,000 school age children who are limited English proficient and who do not have the English language skills necessary to benefit from instruction only in English at a level substantially equivalent to pupils whose primary language is English. Their lack of English language communication skills presents an obstacle to such pupils’ right to an equal educational opportunity which can be removed by instruction and training in the pupils’ primary languages while such pupils are learning English. The Legislature recognizes that the school dropout rate is excessive among pupils of limited English proficiency. This represents a tremendous loss in human resources and in potential personal income and tax revenues. Furthermore, high rates of joblessness among these dropouts contribute to the unemployment burden of the state.
The Legislature recognizes that a critical need exists for teaching and administrative personnel qualified in the bilingual and crosscultural skills necessary to the instruction of the limited-English-proficient population in the state’s school districts. Therefore, the Legislature directs school districts to provide for in-service programs to qualify existing and future personnel in the bilingual and crosscultural skills necessary to serve the pupils of limited English proficiency of this state. Furthermore, the Legislature intends that the public institutions of higher education establish programs to qualify teachers and administrators in the bilingual and crosscultural skills necessary to serve these pupils.
The Legislature finds and declares that the primary goal of all programs under this article is, as effectively and efficiently as possible, to develop in each child fluency in English. The programs shall also provide positive reinforcement of the self-image of participating pupils, promote crosscultural understanding, and provide equal opportunity for academic achievement, including, when necessary, academic instruction through the primary language.
It is the purpose of this article to require California school districts to offer bilingual learning opportunities to each pupil of limited English proficiency enrolled in the public schools, and to provide adequate supplemental financial support to achieve such purpose. Insofar as the individual pupil is concerned, participation in bilingual programs is voluntary on the part of the parent or guardian.