The Bilingual Education Act was a modestly funded ($7.5 million for the first year) amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, intended to help poor Mexican-American children learn English.
At the time, the goal was "not to keep any specific language alive," Yarborough said.
Bilingual education has brought in extra funding to hire and train paraprofessionals, often the parents of bilingual children, as classroom aides.
Career programs in several school districts, among them an excellent one in Seattle that was in operation through early 1996, pay college tuition for paraprofessionals so that they may qualify as teachers, thus attracting more teachers from immigrant communities to the schools.
In practice, many bilingual programs became more concerned with teaching in the native language and maintaining the ethnic culture of the family than with teaching children English in three years.
Beginning in the 1970s several notions were put forward to provide a rationale, after the fact, for the bilingual-teaching experiment.
Large school districts such as those in New York and Los Angeles have long had bilingual professionals on their staffs of psychologists, speech therapists, social workers, and other specialists.
Promoting parental understanding of American schools and encouraging parental involvement in school activities are also by-products of bilingual education.
These earlier decisions on education policy were made in school, church, city, or state. But in 1968, for the first time, the federal government essentially dictated how non-English-speaking children should be educated.
That action spawned state laws and legal decisions in venues all the way up to the Supreme Court.