English Learners in California Schools: Unequal resources, 'Unequal outcomes

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Abstract

The Williams vs the State of California class action suit on behalf of poor children in that state argues that California provides a fundamentally inequitable education to students based on wealth and language status. This article, an earlier version of which was prepared as background to that case, reviews the conditions of schooling for English learners in the state with the largest population of such students, totaling nearly 1.6 million in 2003, and comprising about 40 percent of nation’s English learners. We argue, with evidence, that there are seven aspects of the schooling of English language learners where students receive an education that is demonstrably inferior to that of English speakers. For example, these students are assigned to less qualified teachers, are provided with inferior curriculum and less time to cover it, are housed in inferior facilities where they are often segregated from English speaking peers, and are assessed by invalid instruments that provide little, if any, information about their actual achievement. We end with suggestions for ways in which teachers, administrators, and policymakers can begin to address these inequities, even while legal remedies may remain in the distant future.

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How to Cite
Gándara, P., Rumberger, R., Maxwell-Jolly, J., & Callahan, R. (2003). English Learners in California Schools: Unequal resources, ’Unequal outcomes. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11, 36. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v11n36.2003
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Articles
Author Biographies

Patricia Gándara, University of California, Davis

Patricia Gándara is Professor of Education at the University of California, Davis where she directs the Education Policy Center for the University of California’s Linguistic Minority Research Institute. She is also Co-Director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a consortium of the University of California (Berkeley and Davis) and Stanford University.

Russell Rumberger, University of California, Santa Barbara

Russell W. Rumberger is a Professor in the Gervirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Director of the University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute. He received a Ph.D. in Education and a M.A. in Economics from Stanford University in 1978 and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1971. He serves on the editorial board of four journals: American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Economics of Education Review, and the Sociology of Education. He conducts academic and policy research in two areas of education: education and work, and the schooling of disadvantaged students. His research in the area of education and work has focused on the economic payoffs to schooling and on educational requirements of work. His research on at-risk students has focused on several topics: the causes, consequences, and solutions to the problem of school dropouts; the causes and consequences of student mobility; the schooling of English language learners; and the impact of school segregation on student achievement.

Julie Maxwell-Jolly, University of California, Davis

Julie Maxwell-Jolly received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, specializing in educational policy and English learners. She has worked as a bilingual teacher and researcher in bilingual and multilingual education and is currently Senior Research Associate to PACE (Policy Analysis for California Education).

Rebecca Callahan, University of California, Davis

Rebecca Callahan recently completed her PhD. At the University of California, Davis with an emphasis in education policy and English learners. She is currently a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California’s Linguistic Minority Research Institute at UC Santa Barbara.