Is there room for biliteracy? Credentialing California's future bilingual teachers.
Despite the ethnic and linguistic diversity found in California's public schools, or because of it, in 1998 voters approved Proposition 227, a ballot initiative designed to dismantle bilingual education programs in the state. By the 2003-2004 school year, the California Department of Education reports that statewide 8,908 teachers were providing primary language instruction to English learners (ELs), down dramatically from the 16,360 teachers who taught in primary language settings just five years prior. (1) To date, the effectiveness of Proposition 227 and bilingual education are still being debated among politicians, policymakers, and educators with no end in sight (Mora, 2005).
Notwithstanding the changing political climate and the educational policy shifts of the last 10 years, the need to effectively educate ethnically and linguistically diverse students is apparent. It is clear that the United States' public school system continues to become increasingly diverse and this is most evident in California, which has one of the most diverse student populations in the nation (U.S. Department of Education, 2003a). Statewide, over 68 percent of students in public schools are classified as non-white, and over 1.5 million are classified as non-English-speaking. Within the latter group, over 85% of these students come from Spanish-speaking backgrounds. (2) Given this large critical mass, these students' needs are the focus of this article.
We argue that in order to work effectively with this population, and to combat the long history of Latino student underachievement in the public education system, the state must improve the overall quality of education provided. This includes, among other things, having access to "highly qualified" teachers capable of providing the necessary critical and technical skills to succeed academically and socially in our global society. Within the context of this journal, Senate Bill 2042 (SB 2042) has been addressed in great detail, particularly as it relates to the bill's consequences on teacher preparation and teacher credentialing. This article will focus on specific implications and consequences, both intended and unintended, of SB 2042 with regard to the essential preparation of teachers who possess the background knowledge, expertise, and dispositions to serve the large number of Spanish-speakers within a heritage language context, despite the decreasing presence of bilingual education programs statewide.
Bilingual Education and Biliteracy
Educational programs that provide instruction in a heritage language have a long history in the United States, and have passed through a myriad of policy reforms (Baker, 2001). Closely linked to the ideologies of the time, the policies that have governed bilingual programs have often resulted "in the promotion of one 'correct form' of literacy or definition of bilingual programming, which then becomes directly tied to processes for teaching language to both monolingual English and linguistic minority students in our schools" (Cadiero-Kaplan, 2004, p. 18).
Bilingual education programs in our country run along several diverse continua and differ in design based on the target student population and the intended outcome. The overwhelming majority of programs that serve Spanish-speaking students are transitional in nature in that the students' heritage language is used primarily to transition them into "all English" classrooms, often within a one to three year timeframe. Bilingual programs that serve middle- and upper- class student populations, however, tend to be dual language instruction, with a focus on developing long-term bilingualism and biliteracy in both English fluent students and English learners.
In California, we are currently at a stage in our educational policy where bilingual education is not tolerated, at least not for Latino students. Spoken and unspoken policies are in place to dismantle the few existing bilingual education programs that serve our large Spanish-speaking student population. These few programs are often framed within the discourse of the need to assimilate these language minority children into the "mainstream" and to provide them with the essential tool of English for upward mobility. Those who oppose these programs frequently use two indicators to demonstrate their "failure": (1) the redesignation rates of students from the category of Limited English
Proficient (LEP) to Fluent English Proficient (FEP), and (2) EL students' performance on standardized tests in English. For these critics, academic progress for EL students is solely to be determined using English proficiency tests. That is, the learning of English supersedes academic progress in the content curriculum and bilingualism (or biliteracy). As a consequence, native language assessment results for Spanish-speaking students are completely ignored and de-legitimized by state and local school authorities. In fact, in October of 2005 Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 385 which would have required the state to assess EL students' academic progress with primary language assessments, or modified English tests, with the goal that within 3-5 years these children would develop sufficient English language skills to be able to demonstrate that competence in English.
Supporters of bilingual education programs, for their part, have been attempting to improve the public image of these programs. The most significant effort has been in the use of the term biliteracy, a term used to define high levels of academic and social literacy in two languages, rather than bilingualism, which suggests being able to speak and understand two languages. Thus, biliteracy programs present an ideological shift in thinking and are diametrically opposed to time-honored transitional bilingual education programs, as well as to Structured English Immersion (SEI) programs and Mainstream English Cluster (MEC) programs which are intended to result in monolingualism in English.
Of the many challenges facing biliteracy programs in California, the shortage of qualified teachers who can promote student competency at high academic levels in two languages is one of the most pressing. The need to have qualified teachers for effective biliteracy programs figures significantly in their potential and future in the state. Indeed, regardless of the program, the least common denominator for student achievement and program success is a teacher who is effective in working with language minority children.
Highly Qualified Bilingual Teachers
Due to the high number of teachers who lack proper certification, the high attrition rate found in the teaching profession, and the high turnover of teachers in underperforming schools, teacher effectiveness has become a prime focus for education reformers and policymakers. There are strong national, statewide, and local pushes to improve teacher excellence in order to advance the quality of public education, particularly for those student populations who have historically underperformed within this context. This trend is based on assumptions that correlate teacher quality to student learning, particularly the premise that the single most important factor in improved student achievement is a teacher's "knowledge about effective instruction and an understanding of students' needs" (Darling-Hammond, Hightower, Husbands, LaFors, & Young, 2002, p. 13).
The need to attract highly qualified teachers to historically underperforming schools comprised primarily of low-income students of color who are also English learners is often cited as one of the most imperative of educational interventions (Blank, 2003; Ingersoll, 2004; Rumberger & Gandara, 2004; U.S. Department of Education, 2003b). In fact, some even contend that "of all the educational disparities poor children face, none is more significant than the disparity in the quality of their teachers" (National Partnership for Teaching in At-Risk Schools, 2005, p. 3). To reverse this trend of chronic underachievement, policymakers argue that historically underrepre-sented students must have access to the best qualified teachers. Thus, it is within this context that we find No Child Left Behind (NCLB), with its focus on "highly qualified teachers," and SB 2042, with its goal of improving teacher quality and effectiveness through the state's standards-based teacher preparation programs.
The former piece of legislation is important given its status as national education policy and its lofty goal of having "all teachers in core academic subject areas being highly qualified teachers by the 2005-2006 school year" (Blank, 2003, p. 2). Significant within the Californian legislation are its broad goals to not only clarify the pathways into and through the teacher credentialing process in order to ensure that candidates possess the necessary skills to be effective teachers, but its far-reaching impact to "nurture, and support the professional development of teachers throughout the teacher induction period" (Rosmiller, 2004, p. 2). Also noteworthy in both policies is the "overemphasis" on content standards and testing as viable means of assessing teacher quality and potential. Though SB 2042 was promulgated before NCLB, the regulatory interpretation of the federal legislation pushed the state to require more testing than was first envisioned.
Due to NCLB, SB 2042 multiple subject candidates must demonstrate subject matter competence via examinations aligned to state student content standards. These demonstrations of competence come at various stages throughout the credentialing process: for admission into the program, prior to student teaching, and for completion of the program. For these teacher candidates, these examinations come in the following forms: the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET); the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA); and the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA). (3) And for those candidates interested in the bilingual teaching credential, currently there are additional language proficiency and target culture exams.
Problems arise, however, when "standards become exceedingly prescriptive, and when testing is used as the main tool of school improvement" (Sleeter, 2002) and for judging teacher effectiveness. These problems primarily stem from a simplified view of educational issues and the assumption that standardized forms of knowledge and skills are preferable ways of measuring student and teacher ability. Thus, while for policymakers testing has become a simplified and customary means of demonstrating competence, for teacher educators test preparation has significantly affected the substance of their curriculum. One example in particular is the preparation for the RICA exam which all future multiple subject teachers must pass in order to receive a preliminary credential. Most significant is that a great deal of teaching time in literacy classes is spent on covering technical terms and vocabulary connected to the RICA rather than in the practice of reading methods that will make teachers more capable of working with their students. And while "teaching to the test" is highly discouraged, the high stakes pressure these standardized tests pose to faculty and students often leave very little alternative but to "tweak" the curriculum to the tests.
Additionally, the content that is being tested or more importantly not being tested in these exams raises the question of an unstated ideological movement. In other words, is what is not being tested of no value? For example, biliteracy is not assessed on RICA. As a result, it could be argued that heritage language instruction, which speaks to how to best educate second language learners in reading, is undermined by omission. Thus, the question here is whether this omission of biliteracy in the RICA is representative of an underlying English-only ideology, which is currently politically prevalent, or is this omission merely an "oversight?"
Our focus on SB 2042 leads us to assess its effect on the preparation of bilingual teachers qualified to meet the needs of the state's large Spanish-speaking students as well as its consequences on bilingual teacher certification. Fundamental to this task is looking at what SB 2042 requires and hopes to accomplish and how this has affected our work as teacher educators. Of particular consequence are questions related to the skills and dispositions we are developing in future bilingual education teachers as they prepare themselves to teach in the most challenging of situations within the current political climate.
To serve the academic and social needs of Spanish-speaking students, our future teachers must possess not only the pedagogical skills that will make their instruction meaningful to second language learners, but also the personal clarity to understand their roles as mediators of culture and advocates for low-performing student populations. This means that teacher preparation programs must specifically prepare future bilingual teachers who are versed in the fundamentals of second language acquisition, including strategies that will make instruction meaningful via sheltered instruction strategies, as well have an understanding of the use of the native language for the development of literacy skills and cognition in language-minority students (Cummins, 1981). In addition, future bilingual teachers must also possess the political and ideological clarity necessary to work within the highly politicized field of bilingual education (Bartolome, 2000).
As we look deeper at how universities are preparing future bilingual teachers under the guiding principles of SB 2042 we must further assess what challenges have been posed as a result of this legislation. Specifically, we must examine if ample and meaningful opportunities are being provided for future bilingual teachers to develop their teaching skills and to critically reflect on their practice, or if such opportunities are being restricted by implicit policies which favor a standard form of teaching framed within a prevailing dominant ideology.
SB 2042 and Bilingual Teacher Certification
Conspicuously absent from the SB 2042 standards is any reference whatsoever to bilingual education, biliteracy, or the bilingual certification of teachers. This omission poses a considerable number of concerns about how teachers are being prepared to meet the academic needs of English learners. More specifically, while the SB 2042 program element standards make consistent references to teacher competencies in relation to student content standards, no reference is made to the competencies of teachers working with EL students in bilingual settings, aside from a footnote in the appendix.
Most recently, California depended on its BCLAD (Bilingual, Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development) credential/certificate to prepare and certify teachers competent in educating California's EL student population in bilingual settings. To obtain the BCLAD, teacher candidates must demonstrate competence in six domains, through coursework and/or examination. This competence includes having in-depth knowledge of the role of native language instruction in the development of literacy skills and access to content curriculum, including teaching methodologies in the bilingual context; an understanding of second language acquisition along a developmentally appropriate learning continuum; teaching skills that make instruction meaningful and relevant to language minority students; and, comprehension of diverse forms of cultural capital and home knowledge, including culture-specific competency. Yet, within SB 2042, these competencies are notably absent, pushed aside by an emphasis on English Language Development (ELD) in an SEI setting and a "generic" form of multiculturalism.
For example, Teacher Performance Expectation (TPE) 7 addresses the issue of teaching EL students. To demonstrate competency in this expectation, candidates must be able to "apply theories, principles, and instructional practices for English Language Development leading to comprehensive literacy in English." Additionally, students must be "familiar with the philosophy, design, goals, and characteristics of programs for English language development, including structured English immersion" (CCTC, 2001, p. A-9). Thus within this TPE is an explicit preference for educational pedagogy grounded in English hegemony over alternative programs such as biliteracy or dual language instruction. Indeed, consistent references to ELD throughout the expectation point to the relegation of bilingual programs to compensatory or add-on status. Moreover, the only reference to primary language instruction is in a footnote that states, "teachers are not expected to speak the students' primary language, unless they hold an appropriate credential and teach in a bilingual classroom" (CCTC, 2001, p. A-9). Therefore, the focus here appears to be on a transitional orientation in which teachers are only to be held responsible for supporting their students' "learning of English and curriculum content" rather than developing their biliteracy capacities.
While clearly this criticism of SB 2042 is not aimed at the fact that students in California's public schools are expected to learn English and the core curriculum, which incidentally is also the goal of all bilingual programs, it is, however, aimed at the omission of biliteracy instruction as a viable educational vehicle for EL students to achieve those goals. Specifically, the absence of quality standards in SB 2042 for the certification of future bilingual education teachers brings into question the sustainability of quality bilingual programs without the qualified teaching personnel. Thus, the question now shifts to whether bilingual instruction and the bilingual certification of teachers were ignored unintentionally in the quality and effectiveness standards of SB 2042 or by implicit design with the goal of promoting SEI programs over bilingual education.
One final note is that discussions at the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) meetings have brought forth a reassessment of the routes to obtain bilingual certification, "in light of new developments in theories, program models, and policies regarding bilingual education instruction" (Professional Services Committee, 2005, p. 5B-1). As of this writing, a long-anticipated "Bilingual Certification Advisory Work Group" was formed to assess the viability of alternate routes to bilingual certification as well as to approach policy questions related to bilingual certification in languages other than Spanish. A promising direction this group has taken is acknowledging the positive results of dual language instruction education programs and taking into consideration these programs when developing policy recommendations for bilingual certification.
Modifications to Bilingual Teacher Certification
SB 2042 reiterates that "the professional preparation coursework that all candidates are required to complete prior to or during a professional preparation program shall be equivalent to no more than one year of full-time study at the institution," (CCTC, 2002, p. 5). In an era of increasing financial demands and personal responsibilities, this time limit seems reasonable. Indeed, the thought of dedicating time and money to a "fifth-year" of study as well as up to sixteen weeks of unpaid student teaching has discouraged many potential bilingual teachers from entering the field. Yet, given the rigor needed to prepare teachers to meet the needs of California's linguistically diverse student population and the absence of teaching standards for bilingual teachers within SB 2042, this time limit has provided many unexpected challenges to teacher education programs. And as a result, questions of how to fit more content, in addition to a summative assessment, into existing curriculum, without adding more classes, has forced many teacher preparation institutions to either eliminate or integrate courses in their programs, a move that has most affected the preparation of future bilingual teachers.
The current standards for BCLAD certificate teacher education programs require institutions to integrate competencies and assessments for bilingual teaching within existing multiple and single subject teaching credential programs. Many teacher education institutions have found it particularly challenging, however, to develop high quality BCLAD programs that can be delivered within the one year time frame. In a summary review of 10 teacher preparation programs throughout the state, for example, we found that many institutions had eliminated courses that traditionally provided future bilingual teachers with the necessary background skills and knowledge to work effectively with second language learners, specifically courses related to the foundations of bilingual education, Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE), and Spanish Language Arts/Reading. The elimination of these courses is often rationalized under the pretext that these displaced courses were often "repetitions" of existing courses that cover many of the same concepts. Terms frequently used to describe the integration of these courses into the existing curriculum are "infused" or "embedded."
The assumption is that the content of these eliminated courses has been integrated into the existing teacher preparation curriculum. The fear for bilingual education advocates, however, is that issues related to theory and pedagogy relevant to educating second language learners in their native language have become add-on components or implanted within the realm of compensatory education, if not entirely ignored within the new structure. In fact, in some teacher education programs it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between the route for the preparation of BCLAD teachers and that for teachers with English Language Authorization (ELA) (formerly CLAD). At one university, for example, one three unit literacy class differentiated an ELA teacher from a BCLAD teacher, while at two other institutions the two programs were the same.
We understand that modifications to teacher preparation programs are not new. Indeed, the field of education requires constant actualization of teaching theories and practices. Yet, given the complexity of our state's school systems, one wonders how future teachers can meet the needs of all students with "less" preparation. In other words, teacher preparation for bilingual educators becomes a "false positive," attempting to fit more content into fewer courses and less time. Moreover, since SB 2042 lacks standards for bilingual certification, programmatic decisions are not guided by what is best for the bilingual student or future bilingual teacher; but follow policy intents as explicated in the standards. This is a particularly challenging dilemma in an era characterized by great student diversity yet we are providing future teachers with a reduced understanding of materials and methods intended to meet these students' needs.
Bilingual certification must require teacher candidates to possess deep, specific knowledge of biliteracy pedagogy and culture. Currently, we see a growing rift between remaining faithful to the goals of SB 2042 and preparing future bilingual teachers with the knowledge, pedagogy, and language to work effectively in increasingly diverse classrooms.
Moving towards Biliteracy: The Case Study of an Urban University
Given this environment, we must ask ourselves what can be done to effectively work within the context of the current standards movement, particularly when overtly bilingual and multicultural aspects of education do not form a substantial part of these standards? Moreover, what can we as university faculty do to promote biliteracy, which is closely tied to multiculturalism, as a viable goal and option for educating California's second language learners?
For the remainder of this article we present a brief case study of what one of the authors is doing in her classes to meet the needs of future bilingual education teachers within a context of biliteracy, with the purpose of providing California's EL student population with the necessary reading and writing skills to be successful. Specifically, it demonstrates how opportunities are provided within two reading and language arts methods classes designed for future bilingual teachers, to develop their teaching skills as well as critically reflect on their practice and their ideology. Within the SB 2042 context, it brings forth the importance of having biliteracy pedagogy integrated into the existing standards.
Despite the trend for English only programs in surrounding school districts, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), an urban university located south of Los Angeles, is involved in a reform effort to actively engage future Spanish bilingual teachers in a rigorous curriculum that will impact their practice in biliterate classroom settings. This section highlights key features in two BCLAD Reading/ Language Arts methodology courses taken during the first and second phase of credential coursework. The first course emphasizes reading/ language arts methods for grades K-3; while, the second course focuses mostly on comprehension and writing for grades 4-8.
In these two courses, students examine current methodology in biliteracy (e.g., theoretical principles, reading methods, program models), and investigate specific topics (e.g., comprehensive literacy instruction in both Spanish and English, phonetics and orthography, cognates, word study, cross-linguistic transfer), while further developing their own literacies in Spanish. Opportunities to read academic texts in Spanish, engage in professional dialogues in Spanish and to write in Spanish are apportioned. Furthermore, prospective teachers make metacognitive connections in their own learning in order to best understand the language learning needs and processes of their future students. In other words, candidates experience firsthand what they are expected to teach.
These two courses offer opportunities for students to engage in initial learning about bilingual methodology, to cultivate their writers' voice and critical thinking through journaling and to advance to a higher level of Spanish competency through practice. Unfortunately, the one-year time limit of credential coursework impedes deep learning. In addition, a lack of adequate sites for a valid practicum in biliterate settings hinders student teachers putting their knowledge into practice.
The "bilingual" reading/language arts methods courses at CSUDH are designed in alignment with the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CTSP) and the requirements of SB 2042. In addition to building a knowledge base on the teaching of reading and language arts at the elementary level, the curriculum creates a cultural context that enables students to connect with their roots and to advance their level of Spanish in both reading and writing. Three goals of bilingual education are embedded in the curriculum: (a) the acquisition of English; (b) the use of the heritage language for cognitive access to content/core curriculum; and (c) promotion of a positive self-image. A constructivist framework guides the learning opportunities.
The collaborative nature of these classes provides candidates interactive experiences in the teaching of literacy in both languages. They are introduced to a series of structures to build community and the framework that guides the work of the semester in the areas of reading, writing, and oral language. Initially, the relationship between oral language and reading/writing is made explicit through demonstrations of songs, rhymes and games. As candidates comb through their memories, they showcase their own ethnic and cultural traditions through songs and rhymes. Cultural and linguistically appropriate literature is later introduced.
Both courses require deep reflection on the readings. In the first course, candidates complete double-entry journals in which they record essential facts and critically respond to the text by voicing opinions substantiated by evidence and making personal connections. In contrast, in the second, the readings are guided by an inquiry question, for example, "How would I launch a word study investigation to explore linguistic patterns for my students' stages of spelling development? What accommodations would I need to make for ELs?" The inquiry method induces candidates to examine and reconstruct new understandings based on the readings. The latter method is more challenging for them. "I preferred the double entry journals, where as we read we jotted the information down.... [The inquiry method] was more difficult, more thinking was involved." Knowing facts is important but applying the information has longer lasting results (Harste, 1993). The inquiries afford the opportunity to critically explore classroom practices and to anchor understandings and beliefs about teaching and learning.
As previously mentioned, the goal of these methodology courses is not only to learn essential practices of teaching reading and language arts, but also to increase candidates' Spanish academic language proficiency. Most students are not equally competent in both English and Spanish. From the beginning, norms and expectations are established. The language of the classroom is Spanish when examining issues related to literacy in that target language. Also, students are encouraged to participate in group dialogue centered on weekly readings in Spanish, as well as book talks focused around culturally relevant and linguistically challenging literature. More advanced language leads to increased ability to interact with parents and community and to sustain language rigor for students. It is critical to build a lifelong commitment to the connection of language and a sense of cultural identity, so that teachers will stand steadfast when they encounter adversities in the field. Unfortunately, there are few venues available in which educators can engage in professional dialogue in Spanish, particularly within the current teacher preparation context in which there is literally "no room" in the curriculum to approach these issues.
Most significant is the family history writing project, designed to engage teacher candidates in the life of a writer as they document their family stories. The outcome is a sixteen-page hardbound book that includes, at a minimum, six family stories written in different genres. Through the creative process candidates come to realize their own writing potential. If teachers are responsible for the teaching of writing, then they have to see themselves as writers as well (Sarmiento, 2004). As one student confirms, "... inside of us lives a writer. I am not only a writer but also a historian of my time and family...."
Generally, students have very positive attitudes about the BCLAD reading/language arts methodology courses at CSUDH. The majority of students recognize the value of building a biliterate community within the university class setting as well as the interactive approach to learning the methods and strategies. Many candidates have commented on the practical nature of the strategies and approaches as exemplified in the following, "... actually doing reciprocal teaching, literature circles and book clubs gave us a complete overview of what to expect and what kinds of things to prepare...."
Using Spanish during select lectures, small group work, book talks, readings and writing has led candidates to understand the importance of further development of their language. It is unrealistic to assume that within the short time frame of the methods courses they would be able to achieve a high level of proficiency in Spanish. Nonetheless, in reflections, multiple times candidates remarked that they were able to increase their academic language and learn new terminology in Spanish. As one stated,</p> <pre> ... the instructor helped us refine our grammar, speaking, reading and writing skills of our Spanish language. Practicing the Spanish language in class gave us the opportunity to rediscover the luxury we have to speak this language which seems to be dominating many elementary schools. </pre> <p>This recognition of the value of Spanish is seminal for this group, who will go forth in their work and instill this high regard for their heritage language in their own future students. More importantly, what this group of university students discovered about themselves as writers will forever impact the teaching of reading and writing in their classrooms.
The family history-writing project was transformative. Candidates advanced in their written discourse in Spanish as they developed their literacy skills and expanded their familiarity with genres. For a few, it led them to strive towards future goals, "... I dream with publishing my short stories...." For others, it made them realize the importance of carving time to write. Students aspired to continue to further develop their Spanish, "... accents are definitely something I need to focus on...this has inspired me to take Spanish classes to improve my reading, writing and vocabulary." Overall, by writing, students became more metacognitive and the experience provided deeper insight into the teaching of writing.
Implications for Practice
The aforementioned work provides insight on how universities can move forward and improve present teacher preparation programs to meet the needs of diverse students, and how biliteracy methods and ideologies can truly be embedded into the curriculum. At CSUDH, as in many other universities, there is a need to develop a comprehensive certification program focused on the broader aspect of biliteracy and dual language instruction. This would encompass a tailored curriculum designed for a more diverse group of students. Additional courses also need to be developed specifically for those teachers who wish to teach in urban biliterate or dual language settings. Preparation to teach in urban settings requires preparation beyond the knowledge of how to teach literacy in English and Spanish. From a more global perspective, there is a need to go beyond biliteracy towards promoting multi-literacy. The problem, as we know, is finding room within the curriculum to accomplish all this within one year.
Additionally, credential candidates must be actively sought and recruited to participate in the teacher preparation program for biliteracy certification. This means that all students, who speak Spanish and wish to teach in biliterate settings, must have access to courses that specifically address biliteracy pedagogical strategies. Also, it is imperative that student practitioners complete their field practice in bilingual or dual language classrooms where they experience the realities of working in two languages. Future bilingual teachers must experience coursework and student teaching or fieldwork done in tandem in quality settings to best assure connections between theory and practice. Unfortunately, locating quality classrooms with willing, qualified bilingual master teachers remains a challenge.
Successful, well-developed, teacher education reform will be characterized by a strong commitment to biliteracy not only by the teaching faculty but by the administration. These struggles have been rooted long-term in social conditions, inequalities, and limited vision. Future work needs to exceed past goals and aim towards a more global perspective of biliteracy or multiliteracy for all of our students. We are clearly at a crossroads and behind us are consequences and experiences of Proposition 227, both positive and negative. Ahead lie the possibilities of the newly formed biliteracy work group, the eagerness and voices of the next generation of bilingual teachers and the children who need English and more than English.
Finally, the needs of EL students in the state demand coherent "biliteracy standards" be integrated into SB 2042. These standards must form the foundation of high levels of minimal competency that is to be expected of teachers who wish to work in a biliterate education setting. Failure to integrate such standards into the current document would relegate bilingual certification and programs to an add-on, compensatory status and de-legitimize heritage language instruction as a viable means of educating California's large Spanish-speaking student population.
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(1) California Department of Education: Educational Demographics Unit, 2004-2005 data.
(2) Data for the 2004-2005 academic year, California Department of Education: Educational Demographics Unit.
(3) The TPA is actually a portfolio comprised of teaching tasks, signature assignments, and reflections which measure 12 of the 13 TPEs.
Edward M. Olivos & Lilia E. Sarmiento
California State University, Dominguez Hills
Edward M. Olivos and Lilia E. Sarmiento are professors with the Division of Teacher Education at California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, California.