Voters in California officially ended the era of English-only instruction in public schools and lifted restrictions on bilingual education that had been in place for 18 years. Proposition 58 passed by a 73-27 percent margin. What happens next though, could get complicated.
Classrooms won’t change this school year because the measure doesn’t kick in until July 2017. Until then, state and school district officials need to figure out three big things:
1. How many schools will actually begin to offer bilingual or dual language instruction?
When it comes to sentence structure, Rocky, a sea lion, was a stickler.
“It really mattered to her, what’s going to be the direct and indirect object,” says Kathy Streeter, an animal trainer.
For Sierra, it isn’t the grammar that interests her. It’s the vocalizations. This California sea lion loves experimenting with her vocal range, and she hates being interrupted.
More than 1 million people visit the New England Aquarium in Boston each year. Before walking through the front door, they watch Atlantic harbor seals play. Inside, visitors watch sea lions cruise around the open-air pool.
What these visitors may not know is that the aquarium’s 10 seals and two sea lions go to school each day; Streeter is one of their teachers.
An 8-year-old named Ben is sitting quietly by himself in a bean bag in a classroom in Mountain View, Calif. He’s writing in his journal, an assignment he created himself.
“This one was, ‘What I Wish We Would Have More Of,’ ” Ben says, reading to me from his notebook. “I hope we have more field trips.” He stops and looks up. “I have more entries, but I don’t want to share them.”
That’s cool; it’s your journal, Ben.
I ask him, What is it you like about your school?
“You can move at your own pace,” he says. “You don’t have to be with everyone else. I like that.”