The Historical Development of Language And Cultural Diversity in the United States and California by Chinaka DomNwachukwu, Ph.D.
Dr. DonNwachukwu attempts to explain the predominancy of English in the United States within a historical context and analysis. "In order to appreciate the historicity of America's multilingualism we must first explore historical time periods that mark the American history, and appreciate the extent to which diverse languages have characterized the American Peoples from time immemorial." Dr. DonNwachukwu continues to summarize the evolution of English as the predominate language in America during its historic milestones. He explains that language in New England colonial America was controlled by English speaking Western European immigrants. Any German or Irish immigrants quickly "assimilated into the Anglo-Saxon socio-political, economic and language structure that dominated that era." Even post-colonial America continued to stress cultural homogeneity. "Given the fact that schooling was a community-based affair, dual language instruction was not a problem in post-colonial America. Most communities educated their young ones in their own languages and taught them the dominant language if English at the same time." Considering that all government functions and commercial/legal transaction were in English, all native languages would have been considered secondary to proper fluency in English. The challenge to English as the predominate language would have appeared during the great wave of immigration between 1900 and 1920s. Any possibility that Irish or German could predominate English was tempered by Anglo-Saxon protestant discrimination of Irish Catholic immigrants and anti-German WWI propaganda. "During this period, most American schools were being persuaded to eradicate dual language instruction and conform to the Anglo-Saxon culture and language."
"The Civil Rights movement of the early 1960s (further) intensified the need to address the learning opportunities for non-English speaking minority children." The Supreme Court ruling, Lau v. Nichols (1974) established that students who do not speak English may not be receiving an equal education. The Equal Education Opportunity Act (EEOA) passed in 1974 stated "that schools with second language learners are required by law to provide them with meaningful education by taking appropriate measures to overcome barriers that impeded on equal education opportunities."
Upon exploring the historical development of language in America, Dr. DonNwachukwu discusses multicultural education in his essay entitled, "Historical, Legal and Intellectual Foundations of Cultural Diversity in the United States & California". Dr. DonNwachukwu pointedly addresses the issue, "When and why did it become necessary to require the educational system to cater to the needs of all students represented in the school systems, and how has that attempt progressed over the years?" Dr. DonNwachukwu explains that only after the gains of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s could significant barriers erected by racial and ethnic preducies and bias, could any development in multiculturalism be achieved. "The impact of the civil rights movement and the laws that followed it are more evident when you consider the fact that from 1800s to 1968 African Americans were practically invisible in the major newspapers of Los Angeles." ""Whereas the laws have made general provisions for the pursuit of equality and multicultural education, multiple scholars and academicians have produced research insights that are changing minds, attitudes, and behaviors, making the provisions of law more acceptable to people in such a pluralistic democracy as the United States of America."