Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Elizabeth Winkler (Director), Dr. Alex Poole, Dr. Kelly Reames

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Bilingual education is a subject of debate in education. Some claim that bilingual education programs are detrimental to students, but decades of research supports the benefits of bilingualism and bilingual education for both English Language Learners and monolingual English speakers. The U.S. does not have bilingual education programs in proportion to the needs that these programs could meet for students in public schools. If bilingualism is beneficial, then why do we not have more bilingual education programs? Research extensively covers the internal components of bilingual education programs but only touches on the effect of the external conditions necessary for program success. In order to study one piece of this large question, this thesis considered the external conditions. In order to determine which conditions and which programs/cities/states to research, I compared the case studies of bilingual education programs to determine patterns in the conditions surrounding them. The case studies were selected because they addressed success factors of these programs. Demographics, university relationships, and legislation were three conditions that the research addressed. Minneapolis-St. Paul; San Francisco; Westminster, CA; New York City; and Detroit are the cities considered because they have large ELL populations but are different in their demographic composition and in how they approach bilingual education. I compared the state and number of bilingual programs to the demographics, university relationships, and legislation in each community and drew conclusions from the resulting patterns. The data showed that the existence of bilingual programs correlated positively to the demographics, university relationships, and legislation in each city, although not always to the degree expected. By analyzing the effects of the conditions on the chosen communities, I concluded that one, states and education leaders need to recognize student needs based on student demographics, two, universities need to conduct research for and advocate for local bilingual programs, and finally, legislation needs to support bilingual programs. The most important condition was individuals from universities advocating for bilingual programs by conducting research that provides a source of reliable information about bilingual education for the lawmakers who create educational policy.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | English Language and Literature | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature