Press Release by Congresswoman Pelosi

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Opposes Riggs Bilingual Education Bill

September 10, 1998

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today joined with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in opposition to H.R. 3892, the so-called English Fluency Act. "This bill will not lead to greater English proficiency. It undermines local efforts to provide appropriate educational opportunities, takes decision making away from teachers and nullifies civil rights protections," Pelosi said.

The legislation creates a new federal mandate that all limited-English proficient students move out of specialized classrooms after two years. The bill eliminates funding for assistance to these children after three years, even if students need additional services. "This bill punishes children with limited English skills by imposing rigid timelines that are inconsistent with current research about how children learn a second language," Pelosi said.

H.R. 3892 unilaterally does away with carefully crafted "consent decrees" and voluntary compliance agreements reached by parents, school districts, and the Department of Education. These agreements are the result of cooperation between local leaders and the federal government, and they are consistent with federal efforts to protect the civil rights of language-minority children under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunity Act of 1974.

The legislation is scheduled for a vote on the floor of the House later today.

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