Mass. Lawmakers Weigh Move Away From English Immersion Requirement In Schools

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A desk. (JJ Thompson/Unsplash)
A desk. (JJ Thompson/Unsplash)

There's a big debate in the world of education about how best to teach non-English speaking students in Massachusetts' schools.

Fifteen years ago, Massachusetts voters replaced bilingual education with English only, or something called sheltered English immersion. The idea was to offer kids the best path to succeed in a culture where English is the dominant language.

Now, Beacon Hill lawmakers are pushing a bill that would allow school districts more flexibility to bring back bilingual education. But there's a lot of debate about the merits of the plan and whether sheltered English immersion works.


Rosalie Porter, a former bilingual education teacher and former head of the bilingual department for Newton Public Schools who spearheaded the 2002 English only ballot initiative. She also chairs the board of ProEnglish, which advocates for English immersion programs and to declare English as the official language of the United States.

Miren Uriarte, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a member of the Boston Public School Committee. She tweets @miren23.

This segment aired on August 2, 2017.


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Kathleen McNerney was the senior producer/editor of Edify.


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Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.



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