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Tuesday November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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State of California
Prop. 58 — English Language Education Initiative Statute - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


9,994,454 votes yes (73.5%)

3,598,855 votes no (26.5%)

100% of precincts reporting (24,847/24,847).

Preserves requirement that public schools ensure students obtain English language proficiency. Requires school districts to solicit parent/community input in developing language acquisition programs. Requires instruction to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and effectively as possible. Authorizes school districts to establish dual-language immersion programs for both native and non-native English speakers.

What is this proposal?

Easy Voter Guide — Summary for new and busy voters

Information provided by The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

The way it is now

More than 20 percent of California students are considered English learners. These students have a hard time reading, writing or speaking in English. Under current law, the state requires schools to teach these students mostly in English. State law limits the use of bilingual programs, which teach students using English and their native language. As a result, very few schools offer bilingual programs.



What if it passes?

Schools would no longer be required to teach English learners in English-only programs. Schools would be allowed to use bilingual programs to teach English based on the needs of their students. School districts would have to get feedback from parents about how English learners should be taught.



Budget effect

Prop 58 would have no effect on the state budget. Costs for school districts and county governments would be small. Schools might need to develop new programs or train teachers, but these costs would likely be paid for within current budgets. 

People FOR say

  • English learners should be educated in whatever way best meets their learning needs.
  • Prop 58 would give parents and school districts more control over the way children are educated.

People AGAINST say

  • Since the state has required instruction primarily in English, student test scores have improved.
  • Prop 58 would hurt some students’ chances of learning English by creating classrooms that primarily teach in Spanish.



Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

The Question

Should state law be changed to eliminate the requirement that public schools teach English-learners only in English; to permit a variety of language acquisition programs; and to allow pupils to enroll in bilingual programs without a waiver? 

The Situation

Federal case law, civil rights laws, and state law require pubic schools to teach all pupils English language skills and academic subjects.  In 2015-16, about 2.7 million California K-12 public school students did not speak English at home.  A little more than half of them (22% of all California students) were classified “English learners,” i.e. having limited English proficiency. 

Proposition 227, passed in 1998, imposed certain restricted the way California public schools teach English learners: 1) Classroom instruction must be in English only; 2) special materials may be used to improve language skills and make instruction more understandable; 3) pupils receive special, intensive English instruction for just one year before moving into English-only classes; and 4) enrollment in a bilingual program requires a waiver signed by a parent. 

The state requires school districts and county offices of education to publish yearly plans describing the services they will provide for certain groups of students, including English learners.


The Proposal

Prop. 58 would repeal key provisions of Proposition 227 and add a few new provisions regarding English language instruction.  Prop. 58 would remove the requirement that English learners must be taught only in English. It would allow a variety of programs including bilingual instruction, none of which would require a parental waiver.  Community participation would be increased: the annual planning process would include soliciting input from parents and community members as to how English learners should be taught.  If parental requests for certain programs reached specified levels, the school would have to provide those programs to the extent possible. Removing the restrictions of Proposition 227 would mean that native English speakers would also be able to learn a language other than their home language.

This measure could be amended by a statute approved by a vote of the electorate, or by a majority vote of each house of the legislature and signed by the governor.


Fiscal effect

State costs would not be notably changed by this measure.  Local school district costs would depend on program decisions, but new bilingual programs would not necessarily be more or less expensive overall than English-only programs.  In districts where many pupils are placed in bilingual programs, ongoing costs might go up. (Training, materials, class size, communicating with parents, and other factors.) 

Supporters say

  • Prop. 58 allows districts to meet local needs with greater flexibility.
  • Proposed programs must be evaluated objectively based on outcomes and research. 

Opponents say

  • Being surrounded by English speakers leads to faster English language acquisition.
  • Schools shouldn’t return to methods that haven’t worked.

Details — Official information

YES vote means

Public schools could more easily choose how to teach English learners, whether in English-only, bilingual, or other types of programs.

NO vote means

Public schools would still be required to teach most English learners in English-only programs.


Attorney General of California

  • Preserves requirement that public schools ensure students become proficient in English. 
  • Requires school districts to solicit parent and community input in developing language acquisition programs to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and effectively as possible. 
  • Requires that school districts provide students with limited English proficiency the option to be taught English nearly all in English.
  • Authorizes school districts to establish duallanguage immersion programs for both native and non-native English speakers.
  • Allows parents/legal guardians of students to select an available language acquisition program that best suits their child.


  • No notable fiscal effect on school districts or state government. 


Legislative Analyst's Office

About One in Five California Students Is an English Learner. In 2015-16, about 2.7 million California public school students in the elementary and secondary grades spoke a language other than English at home. Schools classified about 1.4 million of these students as English learners, meaning they were not yet fluent in English. English learners make up 22 percent of all public school students in California. More than 80 percent of English learners in California are native Spanish speakers.

Schools Must Help All Students Learn English. Public schools are required by law to teach English learners how to speak and read in English in addition to teaching them other subjects such as math and science. Across the country, schools tend to teach English learners in either English-only or bilingual programs. In English-only programs, students learn English and other subjects from teachers who speak only in English. In bilingual programs, students learn their subjects from teachers who speak both in English and in their native language. Many bilingual programs are designed to last between three and six years, after which students attend classes taught only in English. Some bilingual programs continue to teach English learners in their native language for at least part of the day even after the students become fluent English speakers.

California Requires Schools to Teach English Learners Mostly in English. In response to some concerns over how English learners were being taught, California voters passed Proposition 227 in 1998. Proposition 227 generally requires English learners to be taught in English and restricts the use of bilingual programs. Proposition 227 generally requires public schools to provide English learners with one year of special, intensive English instruction before transitioning those students into other English-only classes. Proposition 227 remains in effect today.

Schools Can Run Bilingual Programs Under Certain Conditions. Under Proposition 227, parents of English learners must come to school and sign a waiver if they want their children considered for bilingual instruction. Schools may approve these waivers for students meeting one of three conditions: (1) English learners who have attended an English-only classroom for at least 30 days and whose teachers, principal, and district superintendent all agree would learn better in a bilingual program; (2) students who are at least ten years old; or (3) students who are already fluent English speakers. If 20 or more students in any grade get approved waivers, their school must offer a bilingual class or allow students to transfer to a school that has such a class.

Since 1998, Fewer Schools Have Offered Bilingual Programs. The year before Proposition 227 was enacted, about 30 percent of California’s English learners were taught in bilingual programs. Ten years later, about 5 percent of California’s English learners were taught in bilingual programs.

School Districts and County Offices of Education Must Engage Their Communities in a Yearly Planning Process. 

The state requires school districts and county offices of education to publish yearly plans describing the services they will provide for certain groups of students, including English learners. Before adopting these plans, school officials must talk to parents and other community members about what types of programs they would like their schools to run.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Legislative Analyst's Office

This measure repeals key provisions of Proposition 227 and adds a few new provisions regarding English language instruction, as described below. 

Removes Restrictions to Bilingual Programs. Under this proposal, schools would no longer be required to teach English learners in English-only programs. Instead, schools could teach their English learners using a variety of programs, including bilingual programs. In addition, parents of English learners would no longer need to sign waivers before their children could enroll in bilingual programs.

Requires Districts to Respond to Some Parental Demands. While schools generally could design their English learner programs however they wanted, they still would have to provide intensive English instruction to English learners if parents requested it. Additionally, school districts would be required to offer any specific English learner program requested by enough parents. Specifically, if at any school either

  1. 20 or more parents of students in any single grade or
  2. 30 or more parents overall ask for a specific kind of English learner program, that school would have to offer such a program to the extent possible.

Requires Districts to Talk to Community Members About Their English Learner Programs.

This proposal requires school districts and county offices of education to ask parents and other community members how English learners should be taught (for example, by using an English-only or bilingual program). School districts and county offices of education would ask for this feedback as part of their regular yearly planning process. (Some districts likely already discuss these issues in their yearly planning process, but this proposal makes soliciting feedback on these issues a requirement for all districts.)

Financial effect

Legislative Analyst's Office

The measure would have no notable fiscal effect on state government. However, it likely would result in changes to the way some school districts teach English learners. These changes would have little effect on local costs. We discuss the measure’s programmatic and fiscal effects on schools below. 

Significant Programmatic Impact for Some English Learners. Though the measure generally does not require school districts to change how they teach English learners, it makes starting or expanding bilingual programs easier for all districts. The exact effect of this measure would depend upon how parents and schools respond to it. Over time, bilingual programs could become more common, with some English learners taught in bilingual programs who otherwise would have been taught in English-only programs. For these school districts and students, the programmatic impact of the measure would be significant.

Minor Effect on Schools’ Ongoing and One-Time Costs. The bilingual programs created or expanded due to the measure would not necessarily be more or less expensive overall than English-only programs, as annual costs for both types of programs depend mostly on factors like class size and teacher pay. Any school creating a bilingual program would incur some one-time costs for developing new curriculum, purchasing new instructional materials, training teachers on the new curriculum and materials, and informing parents about the program. These costs, however, would not necessarily be added costs, as schools routinely revise curriculum, purchase new materials, train teachers, and keep parents apprised of important school issues.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR


Too many California students are being left behind and not given the opportunity to learn English with the most effective teaching methods possible. This is because of an outdated nearly 20-year-old law, Proposition 227, which restricts the instructional methods school districts can use to teach English.

Proposition 58 revises Proposition 227 to remove these restrictions so schools are able to use the most up-to-date teaching methods possible to help our students learn.

Proposition 58: 

  • Requires local school districts to identify in their annual K–12 Local Control and Accountability Plans the instructional methods they will offer to help ensure all students become proficient in English as rapidly as possible. 
  • Requires schools to offer a structured English immersion program to English learners. But schools also can adopt other language instruction methods based on research and stakeholder input. 
  • School districts must seek input from educators, parents and the community.


Proposition 58 removes barriers hurting students by discouraging schools from expanding multilingual education. Proposition 58 encourages school districts to provide instruction programs so native English speakers can become proficient in a second language: 

  • School districts must include in their annual K–12 Local Control and Accountability Plans programs giving English-speaking students the opportunity to achieve proficiency in a second language. 
  • District choices of non-English languages must reflect input from parents, the community and the linguistic and financial resources of schools. 
  • Research shows that students participating in programs taught in more than one language attain higher levels of academic achievement.


Proposition 58 allows local school districts to choose the most up-to-date language instruction methods to improve student outcomes free from legal restrictions imposed on them by a decades-old law.


The world economy is changing rapidly. Today, technology allows even the smallest businesses to have a global reach. Students proficient in English and a second language will be more employable, start out earning higher wages, and make California’s workforce better prepared to compete for jobs in the global economy.


Giving local schools the tools they need to improve outcomes for students is not a partisan or political issue. Proposition 58 was placed on the ballot by a bipartisan vote of the legislature. Support for Proposition 58’s common sense reforms to improve language instruction in our schools is broad-based and includes: Local school boards (the California School Boards Association), Teachers (the California Language Teachers’ Association, the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers), Parents (California State PTA), and Employers (including the San Jose/Silicon Valley and Los Angeles Chambers of Commerce).

Proposition 58’s reforms allow schools to adopt the most up-to-date methods of language instruction to improve student outcomes and make better use of taxpayer dollars. More information at


LENORA LACY BARNES, Senior Vice President
California Federation of Teachers

CHRIS UNGAR, President
California School Boards Association

TANYA ZACCONE, Executive Director
California Language Teachers’ Association

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Arguments AGAINST


  • The official title of Proposition 58 is “English Language Education.” But it actually REPEALS the requirement the children be taught English in California public schools. It’s all a trick by the Sacramento politicians to fool the voters, who overwhelmingly passed Proposition 227, the “English for the Children” initiative in 1998. 
  • The worst part of Proposition 58 is hidden away in Section 8, which REPEALS all restrictions on the California Legislature to make future changes. This would allow the Legislature to reestablish SPANISH-ALMOST-ONLY instruction in the public schools by a simple majority vote, once again forcing Latino children into those classes against their parents’ wishes. 
  • Teaching English in our public schools is overwhelmingly supported by California parents, whether immigrants or non-immigrants, Latinos or Anglos, Asians or Blacks. That’s why the politicians are trying to TRICK the voters by using a DECEPTIVE TITLE.


  • For decades, millions of Latino children were FORCED INTO SPANISH-ALMOST-ONLY CLASSES dishonestly called “bilingual education.” It was an educational disaster and never worked. Many Latinos never learned how to read, write, or even speak English properly.
  • But in 1998, California voters overwhelmingly passed Prop. 227—the “English for the Children” initiative— providing sheltered English immersion to immigrant students and requiring that they be taught English as soon as they started school.
  • Jaime Escalante of Stand and Deliver fame, one of America’s most successful teachers led the Prop. 227 campaign as Honorary Chairman, rescuing California Latinos from the Spanish-only educational ghetto.
  • It worked! Within four years the test scores of over a million immigrant students in California increased by 30%, 50%, or even 100%.
  • All the major newspapers, even the national New York Times, declared the new English immersion system a huge educational success.
  • The former Superintendent of Oceanside Unified School District announced that he’d been wrong about bilingual education for thirty years and became a leading national advocate for English immersion.
  • Since “English for the Children” passed, there has been a huge increase in the number of Latinos scoring high enough to gain admission to the prestigious University of California system.
  • Prop. 227 worked so well in California schools that the whole issue was forgotten by almost everyone except the bilingual education activists. Now they’re trying to trick the voters into allowing the RESTORATION OF MANDATORY SPANISH-ALMOST-ONLY CLASSES.

Vote NO, keep “English for the Children,” and protect Jaime Escalante’s educational legacy for California’s immigrant schoolchildren. For more information, visit our website at

RON UNZ, Chairman
English for the Children

KENNETH A. NOONAN, Former Superintendent
Oceanside Unified School Distric

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Replies to Arguments FOR

Twenty years ago California schools were forcing hundreds of thousands of children into mandatory Spanish-almost-only classes. Students, their parents, and employers don’t want to return to those days, but the bilingual education “lobby” and teacher unions do, and so do the politicians who put Proposition 58 on the ballot.

We are two of the many Legislators who voted against it and urge you to vote NO as well.

In 1998, California voters approved an initiative requiring that children be taught English in our schools, unless their parents disagreed. They did this because children who were not native English speakers were struggling too long in “bilingual” classes and never moving up.

The results have been spectacular. Children are learning English faster than when they were forced into “bilingual programs” that dragged on for years. Because they are learning English faster and at an earlier age, record numbers of immigrant students are gaining admission to our state colleges and universities.

Those supporting Prop. 58 want to change that because these so-called “language teachers” have jobs in our schools only so long as students stay in bilingual classes. The teachers and their unions benefit, but not the children.

Proposition 58 is not about modernizing the way we teach English, it’s about forcing a failed method of English instruction on immigrant children against the wishes of their parents.

Proposition 58 eliminates current parental rights to an English-language education for their children. Vote NO on this deceptive ballot measure. 

SHANNON GROVE, Assemblywoman

San Diego County 

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Replies to Arguments AGAINST


That’s why Proposition 58 is supported by our state’s leading educators and parent advocates—classroom teachers, the State PTA, school principals and local school board members—and Governor Jerry Brown.

PROPOSITION 58 IS NOT A “DISHONEST TRICK.” Don’t be fooled by opponents’ scare tactics. Prop. 58 is NOT a “trick” to abandon English instruction in favor of “mandatory Spanish-almost-only classes.” Here’s what Prop. 58 actually says: 

  • School districts must provide their pupils with “effective and appropriate” language acquisition programs “designed to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and as effectively as possible” (Education Code Sections 305(a)(1) and 306(c)).
  • “All California school children have the right to be provided with a free public education and an English language public education.” (Education Code Section 320).
  • School districts “shall, at a minimum, provide English Learners with a structured English immersion program” (Education Code Section 305(a)(2)).

THE EVIDENCE DOES NOT SUPPORT THE OPPONENTS’ CLAIMS.pponents claim Proposition 227 was wildly successful, but a comprehensive five-year evaluation by the American Institutes for Research concluded “there is no conclusive evidence” to support their claims.

EDUCATORS AND PARENTS ASK YOU TO REJECT OPPOSITION SCARE TACTICS. Under Prop. 58 local school districts will decide—with input from parents, educators and their communities—the most appropriate language instruction approaches for their students to achieve English proficiency as rapidly as possible and expand opportunities for English speakers to master a second language.


California State PTA

TOM TORLAKSON, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Association of California School Administrators 

— Secretary of State Voter Info Guide

Who gave money?


Yes on Prop. 58

Total money raised: $5,660,313
Bar graph showing total amount relative to total amount for this entire campaign.

No on Prop. 58

No data currently available.
Bar graph showing total amount relative to total amount for this entire campaign.

Below are the top 10 contributors that gave money to committees supporting or opposing the ballot measures.

Yes on Prop. 58

Califonia Teachers Association
Steyer, Thomas
Nextgen Climate
California Federation of Teachers
SEIU California
Association of California School Administrators
California Calls Action Fund - Yes On 57 (Nonprofit 501 (c)(4))
SEIU Local 2015
SEIU United Healthcare Workers West
California Faculty Association

No on Prop. 58

More information about contributions

Yes on Prop. 58

By State:

California 99.27%
District of Columbia 0.53%
New York 0.10%
New Jersey 0.10%

By Size:

Large contributions (92.17%)
Small contributions (7.83%)

By Type:

From organizations (66.44%)
From individuals (33.56%)

No on Prop. 58

More information

Videos (3)

— October 18, 2016 The Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College
— October 22, 2016 Sacramento State University
Sacramento State College’s Project for an Informed Electorate provides non-partisan videos on California’s ballot Propositions. Each video includes an appearance by a representative from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). The LAO writes the state’s impartial analysis on each Proposition.

Contact Info

Yes on Prop. 58
Californians for English Proficiency Sponsored by CA State Council of Service Employees
Phone: (916) 668-9103
1510 J Street
Suite 210
Sacramento, CA 95814
No on Prop. 58
Keep English for the Children
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