Oakland School Board Resolution on Ebonics

This highly contested school board resolution in California is in part the result of the repeated vetoing of state legislation aimed at recognizing and thus providing for the “unique language stature of descendants of slaves” [Source]. The resolution cites the Bilingual Education Act in which the mandate to “establish, implement and sustain programs of intruction for children and youth of limited English proficiency” [Source] confirms the Board’s determination to provide equal opportunities for such students. In particular, the resolution refers to African Language Systems (i.e., Ebonics) and states that African-American children will be instructed in both their primary language and English. Because of the national backlash and ensuing conversations about the resolution and its claims, the school board passed a second resolution on January 15, 1997, which changed the focus to moving students to English proficiency. The implication for language policy around the country is a heightened awareness of the belief that students with dialects or other languages must learn standard English.