With an Hispanic population of more than a half million and growing, the state of North Carolina is experiencing a profound transformation. Inevitably, dramatic change provokes reaction. The board of commissioners of one rural county recently mandated that all signs on public buildings must be written in English only. Barely 40 miles away, another rural community saw the presence of a significant Hispanic population as a welcome opportunity to try something new. The local primary school decided to implement a truly bilingual instruction program. Beginning with the first grade, parents and students may elect a program where instruction in all subjects is conducted in both Spanish and English. Initial enrollment in each class includes equal numbers of native English and Spanish speakers. Such polarized attitudes represent the two extremes of the political debate over bilingual education in the United States. Where one side emphasizes the importance of assimilation into a mainstream English language culture, the other extols the benefits of multicultural exposure and dual language learning.
This new encyclopedia explores the many facets of bilingual education in the United States. The wide-ranging investigation includes the politics of cultural identity, the history of language instruction, questions of public policy, as well as educational theory, practice and research. From William J. Bennett to Nancy Zelasko, biographical sketches profile the work of public officials, educators and theorists who have contributed to development of bilingual education in this country. Other entries describe the impact of court cases, legislation and ballot referendums. Articles on second language approaches, immersion and social learning explain instructional designs and teaching methodologies. Linguistic theories and related social sciences also are explored. The scope includes Hispanics, Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asians, Native Americans and other cultural communities invested in the debate over bilingual education. All told, 306 scholarly essays introduce the field of bilingual education. Several appendices present landmark events, legislation, court decisions and policy statements. Josué M. González, a 40-year veteran of bilingual instruction and policy making, and his team of scholars have produced an outstanding tool for students, teachers and policy makers.