Legal History Of English As A Second Language In The United States
Legal History of English as a Second Language in the United States
1964: TitleVI of the Civil Rights Act:
Title VI provided for alternative language programs necessary to ensure that national origin minority
students with limited English proficiency have meaningful access to the schools' programs.
1968: The Bilingual Education Act:
The first federal recognition that limited English speaking ability students have special educational
needs and that in the interest of equal educational opportunity, bilingual programs that address those
needs would be federally funded.
1970: The May 25th Memorandum:
The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) issued a memorandum regarding the
education of limited English speaking children. School districts were informed that they must take
affirmative steps to rectify students' English language deficiencies. Students could no longer-fee
placed in Special Education classes, nor be placed in dead-end tracking systems because they didn't
speak English. School districts were made responsible for notifying parents or guardians in
languages other than English concerning school activities.
1974: The Lau v. Nichols Case of San Francisco, CA:
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the suit brought against the San Francisco School District by the Lau
family, alleging that 1,800 Chinese students were being denied an equal education because of their limit-
ed English skills. As a result, the school district was directed to provide special assistance in English to lim-
ited English proficient (LEP) students so that they could take quot;a meaningful partquot; in the educational system.
The court also mandated a Lau Plan for school districts with twenty or more language minority students.
1974: The Equal Education Opportunities Act (EEOA):
The EEOA extended civil rights protection of all students to all schools in the nation. Even schools that
did not receive Federal or state funding had to abide by the EEOA.
1978: The Education Amendments:
The amendments expanded the term limited English proficient (LEP) to include students with sufficient
difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language.
1981: The Castenada v. Pickard Case of Raymondville, TX:
The ruling in the Castenada v. Pickard case stated that schools must have a program for LEP students
based on a legitimate foundation. The program could not only exist on paper. Also, the program must be
implemented, evaluated, and adapted accordingly.
1991: OCR Policy Update:
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been commissioned by the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that the
needs of language minority students are being met. The OCR works with school districts across the
nation to carry out this mission by providing policy and guidelines to meet the needs of language minority
students. The 1991 OCR Policy Update focused on LEP students, identification, assessment, exit criteria,
equity, staffing, staff development, the educational program, and program evaluation.
Adapted from The Language Link, Project TALK, Aurora, CO, 1997