San Diego sits at a binational crossroads, perfectly positioned to provide bilingual job candidates in a variety of fields. But local employers still struggle to find qualified bilingual candidates. Employers, language experts and teachers point to one root cause for the disconnect: a public education system that has restricted bilingual education for the past 18 years.

For 18 years, state law in California restricted bilingual education and taught students like me that knowing two languages was a disadvantage. In November, those restrictions were lifted. Now, as school districts across the state grapple with whether to expand bilingual education, they have the chance to show students they don’t have to give up their identity and native language to find success.

Patricia Gándara, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, rejects the framing offered by those who oppose Prop. 58, a statewide ballot measure that would make it easier to open bilingual education programs. High graduation rates and learning multiple languages are not mutually exclusive, she says.

Bilingual students may be San Diego’s greatest natural resource. More than one in five students in San Diego County speaks another language at home. This group, 80 percent of them native Spanish speakers, will soon be the base of the local workforce. At a time when a growing number of employers is looking for bilingual professionals, […]

Bilingual education in California suffered a major blow when Proposition 227 passed nearly 20 years ago. Proposition 58 will fix Prop. 227’s mistakes. The measure proposes access and equity to bilingual education programs for all students in California, both those who enter public schools needing to learn English, and English-only speaking students who want to learn a second language. […]

Research offers convincing evidence that quality bilingual programs benefit English-learning students. One study showed English-learners coming out of bilingual programs in San Francisco outperform those in English-only classrooms. It just takes a little longer.