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  • United States Congress and bilingual education by Abdul Karin Bangura, and Martin C. Muo.
  • Edwin Battistella
United States Congress and bilingual education. By Abdul Karin Bangura and Martin C. Muo. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. Pp. 159. ISBN 0820440000. $24.95.

In 1967, Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough, along with other Senate and House cosponsors, introduced what became the 1968 Bilingual Education Act (Title VI of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965). The act provided supplemental funding for local school districts to establish programs to meet the special needs of low income, limited-English proficient children. This book analyzes the efforts of Congress in passing the 1968 Bilingual Education Act. The authors identify political, cultural, social, and economic factors that influenced the Congressional debate as well as some of the interest groups that lobbied Congress, and they discuss how Congress shaped and transformed the information it received.

This short book has 96 pages of text divided into five chapters. In their ‘Introduction’ (Ch. 1, 1–26), the authors discuss the background of bilingual education, their methodology, and the theoretical framework. Ch. 2, ‘Environment’ (27–50), examines the social, political, and cultural context of the 1960s. Ch. 3, ‘Inputs’ (51–65), looks at more specific political forces that drove bilingual education efforts— from the Brown v. Board of Education decision and the Civil Rights movement to local educational studies and political strategy. Ch. 4, ‘Legislative system’ (67–75), touches on the legislative process that resulted in the original Bilingual Education Act and the debate over limiting it to Spanish speakers. Ch. 5, ‘Outputs’ (77–92), reports on the final version of the 1968 act; various reauthorizations in 1974, 1983, 1984, and 1988, and government studies of its implementation and effectiveness. Ch. 6 (93–96) is a brief ‘Summary and conclusion’. The book concludes with 49 pages of appendices (97–145) followed by a bibliography and index. Appendices include the 1968 Bilingual Education Act and its 1974 revision along with the 1958 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision and the 1974 Lau v. Nichols Supreme Court decision.

Bangura and Muo note that the administration of bilingual education has always been problematic, and they document some of the ways in which education policy has become politicized due to language issues. They also highlight how the act moved from originally being conceived as an enrichment effort to becoming a compensatory education program by the time it was signed into law. The main value of this volume, however, is as a sourcebook for further study of the factors in the passage of the act. The work is disappointing in that it is heavy on general introductory material, repetitive in places, and light on analysis. Much of the material could have been condensed into article form, and it seems that a book published in 2001 could extend beyond the 1988 reauthorization of bilingual education and include more discussion of the impact of Official English efforts as well.

Edwin Battistella
Southern Oregon University


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