Bilingual Education

The Latino and Chinese narratives in pre-busing activism are unfortunately largely missing from historical record. However, both groups faced unique issues because of how most reforms affected English language learning programs. Soon after the Racial Imbalance Act was passed, the Boston School Committee reclassified Chinese students as white in an attempt to offset some of the segregated schools under the RIA’s definition. Similarly, in 1972 the Spanish community believed that they were being under represented in census figures, possibly as an attempt to augment school demographics.  Many people believed the BPS failed to conduct mandatory annual censuses to have accurate demographic statistics. Both Latino and Chinese groups felt that non-English speaking students were being turned away from public schools, with 8000 Spanish-speaking children of school age not in school in 1970. As the Garrity decision was in process, many in the Chinese-American community expressed fears about their students being bused to schools that could not support their bilingual education needs. Issues for bilingual education in BPS came to a head in the 1980s.