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The creation and demise of Bilingual Education at CSU-Sacramento

Duane Campbell
by Duane E. Campbell 
 2017.  Note: The Bilingual Multicultural Education Department was eliminated as described below.  In Oct.2017, the College of Education received  a federal grant to respond to the shortage of Latina/o teachers.  The shortage was in part created by the earlier elimination of the department and its recruitment and service to the community components.  Hopefully, they will create a positive program.

            The Bilingual Multicultural Education Department  program, like the earlier Mexican American Education Project, was a product of the  Chicano movement, the influence of the United Farm Workers, and the social justice movement in public education.  A goal was to penetrate the institutions ( universities) to create an alternative democratic social justice educational vehicle as a strategy for social change.

            A significant organizing vehicle at Sac State  was a small changing core group of faculty focused on a series of common goals.  Specific organizational and change strategies changed over time.

            A major  strategy for change  was to create a program with majority status for Chicano/Mexicano students and students of color.  The experience of being in the majority ( majority status) changed the lives of many, focused the students and faculty on empowerment, and  introduced, renewed and continued the positive aspects of the Chicano/social justice movements to students from later generations who were born, reared, and educated after the movement decline.  The program kept the dream of educational justice alive for over two decades.

            Over the decades of the 1980’s and 90’s,  fewer and fewer faculty had themselves participated in the social movements. As a consequence   the commitment to educational efforts based upon  social movements, empowerment, and participatory democracy declined.   By 2006 the political culture of the College of Education regressed to its mean- away from multicultural education goals and toward an increase in the normal, traditional, College of Education culture of  faculty seeking personal advancement.

            In each generation of students after the 1980’s  we had fewer and fewer students who had participated in movements, particularly the Chicano Civil Rights movement.  However until 2006 the BMED center was a place where the  few students who had experienced movements and had been educated by movements  were re-enforced, encouraged, and where they became opinion leaders.

Marie (Guttierez) Avila
Our programs presented  multicultural and bilingual teacher preparation as  a vocation as a change agent as much as a career.  When the student population of conscious students declined, they were less influential.  A similar pattern occurred among faculty as the generations changed.

            The increased ambivalence toward the need for substantive school reform and teacher preparation reform to achieve multicultural goals and social justice goals along with the changing experiences of faculty and students led to a rupture of the prior faculty unity of purpose to create and extend a multicultural teacher preparation  program.  The  BMED department was terminated by a vote of the entire College faculty in 2010.   The great majority of the students did not even know the matter was under consideration. This illustrates how far the engagement and empowerment of students had declined.

            IN the BMED department we set up a structure so that the university, CSU-Sacramento, could continue to serve the community by preparing and advancing hundreds of Chicano and Asian teachers each year.  Unfortunately, others shut down this vehicle. Between 1994 -2006, Latino descent students were about 35% of the total teacher preparation students each year ( 60 -90 students per semester).  After the termination of the department in 2010, Latino descent students were less than 10% of the total students in teacher preparation.  This decline was a direct consequence of eliminating the department. 

In 2015 after the Great Recession new California  state budgets sent large amounts of funds to k-12 schools and the funds of the Local Control  Accountability Program  were targeted to low income schools.  This increased funding will lead to a dramatic need for new teachers.  Sacramento City Unified plans to hire 100 new teachers, and many other urban districts will do the same.  This growth in faculty will continue for 3-5 years.

But credentialed teachers from the Latino community and several Asian communities will not be available to hire because the Sac State pipeline has been broken.  A new generation of mostly Anglo teachers will be hired which will continue the past failure to integrate the teaching profession in this region.  Latino families now make up over 37 % of California residents and Latino descent children now make up over 50% of public school students. Ending the pipeline will shape the nature of the local teaching profession for decades.

When hubris and personal agendas win.

Programs such as BMED and Chicano Studies are ultimately based upon people- both faculty and students. As long as the faculty were dedicated to building a pipeline to open the teaching profession to Latinos and other people of color the program was successful.

After a decade a number of faculty lost this interest. Some may have never shared it. Instead they pursued their individual career goals and projects and the collective responsibility to protect the program was lost.

In this environment a decline in FTE caused by the Great Recession and endless personal conflicts led to the “re-organization” of the College of Education including the elimination of the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department.  The individual faculty members kept their positions, but the program was dissolved and the educational pipeline broken.

Individual faculty in the department of Teacher Education who had long criticized the BMED program as separatist joined with a segment of the BMED faculty in voting to  eliminate the program.

Like prior reforms including bilingual education (repealed by Prop. 227) and affirmative action hiring (repealed by Prop.209) once a program has become successful the forces of repression find a way to stop the program and to return the power to the (most Anglo) power structure.  This is accomplished by faculty who consider themselves enlightened, liberal, and progressive.

There is little doubt that individual faculty and students will continue to create positive projects and efforts at CSU-Scramento.  But, an organized, collective effort is always stronger than individual efforts and the organized, collective effort has been terminated.

Note: If readers who were participants in these events disagree with this description, they are invited to submit an alternative description (based upon evidence) to the Digital History project for consideration of posting. 

The Back Story. 

The Historical Process: 


In August of 2012, California public schools are in crisis- and they are getting worse, particularly the schools serving low income students.    Latino descent students now constitute 50.1% of the total k-12 school population. Schools and teachers promote either equality or they promote  inequality.  

National Assessment of Education Progress [NAEP]:

·       California is tied for 47th among states in fourth-grade reading. (NAEP, 2008-09)

·       California is tied for 46th in eighth-grade math. (NAEP, 2008-09)

·       California’s economically disadvantaged students rank 49th in fourth-grade reading. (NAEP, 2008-09)

·       California’s economically disadvantaged students rank 48th in eighth-grade math. (NAEP, 2008-09)


The Bilingual Multicultural Education Department was created by a group of faculty  at CSU-Sacramento to improve the preparation of teachers to serve diverse student populations currently under served in California.

In our 16 year history we prepared over 1000 new teachers and other education leaders, most of the students of color, to work with oppressed students in public schools.  This department has now been disbanded. 

 Schools, whether public or private, or university teacher preparation programs  can teach and support democratic values or they reinforce inequality,  authoritarian, anti democratic values and thus increase the hostile divisions in our society. 


    By initially  becoming our own department in 1994, we gained more local control over our budget, hiring, and decision-making. While we were in Teacher Education, it would often require  2–3 years of advocacy to achieve a single faculty position. And, faculty outside of our  area controlled our tenure and promotion processes.


 In 1994 we proposed to the Dean's Advisory Council of the School of Education  that BMED  become a department. Dean Gregorich placed the issue to a vote of the entire School faculty. Several members of other departments assisted us in this effort, usually through the Bilingual Core Faculty. Typical departments at the university are about -12 faculty.

We won the vote. The Dean recommended to the President, and we became our own department in 1994. Dr. Forrest Davis was interviewed and selected by the committee  in Teacher Education, and became the first new hire in our new department of Bilingual/Multicultural Education.

Duane Campbell was elected as the first Chair, and Katy Romo was hired as the first Department Secretary. Rene Merino was elected as the second Chair in 1997. Since becoming a new department we have added several new faculty. By 1997 we had prepared over 320 bilingual teachers for the Sacramento region. Dr. Forrest Davis became the graduate coordinator in 1997. Dr. Pia Wong became the graduate coordinator in 2001. 

In 1994, our ally Dr. Diane Cordero de Noriega became the Dean of the School of Education. In 1996 we began our single subject program based on the long history of success with the multiple subject program. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 187, and in 1998, they passed Proposition 227 to eliminate bilingual education.

In 1996 the department completed a review process. The mission of the department, as adopted by the faculty is:

“Our primary goals are to prepare outstanding teachers of bilingual and multicultural education who in turn prepare their students to fully participate in a democratic, pluralistic society.”

Between 1984-1999, Dr. Rene Merino has been a primary investigator and fundraiser for students financial support through his role as director of the Cross Cultural Resource Center. These Title VII funds also fund our annual student retreats.

The CCRC housed a number of important projects including OLE, the HEP Program, International Studies, and others.

Each year the department hosts a multicultural conference for students and graduates of the program.  ( See list of speakers below) The recent chair  of the conference has been  Maggie Beddow.

Melinda Melendez
BMED Graduate and Conference Speaker. Melinda Melendez.

In 1999 Dr. Victoria Jew became the first person to retire from the faculty of BMED. Prof. Hugo Chacon became the mentor for the Multicultural/Multilingual Teacher Preparation Association in 1999.  Since 1980, we have established a pattern of faculty rotating the role of Center coordinators. In 2001, the coordinators were  Dr. Sue Heredia, Gloria Hernandez, Harold Murai, and Adele Arellano.

Support in the society for bilingual education and multicultural education declined significantly in the 1990's. In 1993, California Governor Pete Wilson won re-election by presenting a hostile, divisive campaign, which blamed the economic crisis on immigrants. The Prop. 187 campaigns demonstrated that anti -immigrant campaigns could mobilize angry voters. Anti immigrant campaigns continued in 1998, when California voters banned bilingual education in most schools through Props. 227.

Students and  some faculty in our programs were intensely involved in these campaigns. The election defeats allowed political leaders and other faculty to challenge the basic premises of our department's existence. While political defeats imperiled our efforts, the growing diversity of our student population increased our strength within the College of Education until 2008.

In the 70's and 80's, retreats, and workshops had developed a unity of purpose among the faculty, which often assisted us to advance the social justice agenda within the College of education and to establish the Department. 

In the 90's the Department was able to hire several new faculty. New faculty, along with the increasing reliance upon hiring part time faculty who often did not meet and dialogue with the tenured faculty about curricular matters, along with retirements, created a new, more diverse faculty who at times did not share a relative common series of experiences in the political struggle for social change. By 1997 individualist initiatives toward change between cycles of the Center increased and unity of purpose among the faculty declined. Fewer dialogues occurred among faculty, particularly with the part time and supervisory faculty. A lack of curriculum unity, sequence and coherence became more pronounced. The general perspective in the Center changed from an emphasis on Civil Rights and organizing  to an emphasis on diversity.

In 1995, after we became a department,  the first Multicultural Conference was offered to our graduates and our host teachers as a strategy to build a network of support in the community. By 1998 Dr. Jose Cintrón and Maggie De Leon became Co-chairs of the event and secured modest university funding. Conservative forces conducted an assault on Whole Language approaches to reading in the state. These efforts also challenged most efforts to serve Language Minority Students with special programs. The OLÈ/Migrant Education project directed by Dr. Nadeen Ruiz and Dr. Jose Cintrón produced a counter force of support for teachers and student teachers seeking to build upon native language skills and the strengths of students.

Rene Merino was chair of the Department from 1997-1999. He retired inJan.2000. Dr. Harold Murray became the new Department Chair. Dr. Victoria Jew retired in June of 1999. In the Fall of 1999, the Department hired its first Distinguished Visiting Professor.This is a project to have on faculty excellent faculty from the local schools, adding an important practicing teacher dimension to our work.

BMED plans in the period until 2006 called  for the department to work with a select number of schools where we work over time. Our intention is to develop excellent student teaching sites. We have been working with Beamer Elementary in Woodland for some 14 years. Beamer  had  some excellent host teachers, most of them our graduates.

In 1998 we received a grant for a technology program at Beamer. We received$40,000 to get the schools computers. The project was to help our student teachers to use technology in their teaching. We provided the technology. This use of technology in teaching is one of the new standards required for all teacher preparation programs.

Since about 1998, Dr. Sue Heredia has been working with a select number of schools in West Sacramento. This process of concentrating on a few schools with a particular focus is called a Professional Development School.

A new grant was secured to design and develop new mechanisms for working with the development of Professional Development Schools. In 2001 Dr. Pia Wong became director of this project. Prof. Hugo Chacón has developed an on-site science class as a part of this work.

The  Bilingual Teacher Preparation Center is much more than a series of courses. It should be an integrated package of experiences. This requires that both the faculty and supervisors be talking with each other. When we know what the supervisors are doing, and when they know what we are doing, this provides more unity of purpose in our center. This unity of purpose emphasizes a diversity perspective in place of the prior civil rights emphasis.

Graduate.  And Faculty Member. Celina Perez.

We should be modeling this unity of purpose for our students. This is one of a few basic issues which, as you know, prevents schools from functioning well. We should be modeling inter faculty dialogue, cooperation and sequence.

 Frequent  faculty  meetings are essential to provide a quality program for our students. Faculty meetings allow us to adapt and modify our courses, our assignments, and our work. They allow us feedback about how the students are doing in their field placements.

 The bilingual/multicultural education department marked  a major milestone in 2004, its first decade. The Sacramento State department is one of only three such departments in the CSU system and is the only one that carries the bilingual designation.

The department’s first chair, Duane Campbell. says that the program’s roots are in the Civil Rights movement. “Teachers in most urban areas face students from a variety of social classes and cultural and language groups,” Campbell says. “The majority of the teacher candidates do not share the middle-class, European American culture common to college-educated teachers.”

 The basis for organizing the BMED effort.

 1.      Between 1970 and 2000, universities were  viable community of struggle.  They were a place to oppose the hegemony of imperial, racist ideologies in our society.

2.  In organizing, need to recognize and plan for class differences between private universities , elite universities, and lower strata  universities serving the working class. 

A Brief Timeline of this equity effort.

1968–1973 Mexican American Education Project.. See posts on Mexican American Education Project.

Cesar Chavez visits campus and works with students.

1972–74 Teacher Corps Project

1974–1979 Experienced Teacher Fellowship

1974 Robert Segura Director Title VII project

Rene Merino Co-director

1973 Begin Urban Teacher effort

1974 West Sacramento Teacher Training Center

1976 Students provide leadership for Pro-United Farm

Workers—Proposition 22

1976  First effort on Asian Language Students

1976 West Sacramento Center becomes Bilingual Center; faculty include

Marjorie Lee, Rene Merino, Duane Campbell, Barbara Schmidt,

and Robert Segura

Francisco Reveles
Francisco  Reveles. Graduate.  Faculty Member. 

1978 Dolores Huerta makes a presentation to our students

1980 Paulo Freire spends 3 days with our students. John McFadden was host.

1994 Students resist Proposition 187

1995 We establish the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department

1996 We begin the annual Multicultural Education conferences. The

Department begins the Single Subject B/CLAD program

1997 Student and faculty resist Proposition 227

1998 Adele Arellano directs the Single Subject Program

We begin to participate in discussions of professional development

school projects.

2008.  Faculty vote to re-organize the College of Education and to eliminate the department.

2012. The department is organized out of existence.  

2017.  The College of Education receives a federal grant to respond to the shortage of Chicano/Latino teachers.


A change from the state policy makers.

A movement to monitor and control teachers and teacher preparation has been gaining strength in the nation and the state  for over a decade. This movement came to impact our Department.

The first  legislative vehicle for this growing control was  California SB 2042. This legislation provided substantive power to establish standards for new teachers, and assessment devices to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the State Board of Education. This effort was driven by the major corporate driven view of school change, which gained ascendance since 1994 (See Campbell, 2000).

For our purposes, a major effect of 2042 and the subsequent standards was to reduce and eliminate mandates for multicultural curriculum and experiences in the preparation of teachers. A major part of the FTE (budget)  of the  BMED department was generated by teaching EDBM 104/105, Education for a Democratic Pluralistic Society.  In 2000 This course was required of all students in teacher preparation.

The department faculty spent a series of days reflecting upon and re-examining our own Multicultural/Multilingual Teacher Preparation Center. We used a process centered approach to reflection guided by Dr. Pia Wong. The processes engaged many new faculty in re-designing the Center. By 2003, a new design emerged. The course work remained substantially the same, but the field experiences were re-designed and plans were made to integrate the course work and field experiences. The new design moved the program substantially toward a standards-based prescription and assessment perspective. The faculty plans maintained requirements for multicultural preparation for our students in BMED – not in Teacher Education.

Sacramento Bilingual Education department has been  re-organized out of existence.

By 2008, a group of faculty in BMED and faculty in the School of Education, along with the Dean,  decided to re-organize the College of Education in a manner that eliminated BMED.  

The Bilingual Multicultural Education Dept. at CSU Sacramento was established in 1994 as one of the first  major Bilingual Departments in the CSU system.  Since its inception  it has graduated over 800 bilingual teachers, administrations, college professors, and educational leaders.  The department at one time had a faculty of 18 tenure track members.

In response to the severe crisis in teacher preparation in California, the department was  voted out of existence during the Fall of 2010 .  As many as half of the existing faculty members in BMED were  in favor of a re-organization of the College that would in the process eliminate the department.  Few of these faculty were part of the group that established the department.  The decision was  made by a vote of the entire faculty of the College of Education – not only the faculty of the department.  The vote was 65 to 19 to adopt a new organizational form which does not include a department of Bilingual/Multicultural Education.  In general many School of Education faculty believe that “ we are all multicultural now, and such specifically focused departments are no longer necessary.”

This viewpoint was common in 1994 when the department was created, however deep divisions in the BMED department faculty in 2008 made the department susceptible to elimination.

During the last decades the BMED  department  prepared thousand of new teachers and educational leaders who made bilingualism and multiculturalism a priority.  The programs emphasized Spanish –English, Chinese and more recently Hmong bilingualism.  Under the prior School of Education ( pre 1976) , many of our now graduates would have been screened out .  With the strength of our own department we were able to recruit, educate, credential and help organize these students.  Since the termination of the department, Latino enrollment has been reduced to less than 10% of the total teacher preparation enrollment. 

Students from the program were active in the campaigns against California propositions 187, 209, and 227, which effectively eliminated most bilingual education in the state.

 Note the parallel here in the comments by Chicano Studies professor and author Rudy Acuña,  " By and large educators were mute as bilingual programs were wiped out and university based teacher training programs specializing on Mexican Americans were eliminated. At teacher training institutions grade point average was favored over knowledge of the child’s background. Although Latinos comprised 75 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, student teachers were given minimal preparation on how to teach Latino students.

 The dropout was one of the major reasons for the development of Chicano Studies in 1969"  by Rodolfo Acuña. 2012.   Here 


 On the termination of the department

I  (Duane Campbell) was the founding chair of the department in 1994.   I retired in 2008 and I have not been engaged in the internal discussions about the future of the department nor  its termination.   As in many academic departments there are intense, highly personal conflicts between some members of the department leading to  a lack of unity of purpose in the face of the extreme budget crisis of the university system.

In 2010  36%  of the California population is  Latino, and 49 % of k-12 public school students are Latinos or descendents of Latinos.  In 2010,  25% of the legislators are Latinos.  Certainly these students came from somewhere.  They too have a history

We can now observe that most of the minority faculty recruited in the 1970’s have retired.  Less than half have been replaced. 

Ethnic studies has prospered, but there has been little recognition for a Chicano history, a Chicano political science, etc.  This generation of Anglo faculty no longer recognize a need to have faculty with these backgrounds – or at least it is not a priority.

Although the student populations has increased in diversity( see charts below), the faculty population has decreased diversity.  A similar pattern is developing at other campuses.  That is, those of us who stood on the shoulders of giants to create an open, diverse university are now losing what we gained.  This development requires further analysis.

 In 2010, the Single Subject course work designed in the new credential department ( post BMED) was essentially the same as the Single Subject course work in the early 1970's, plus one course in Introduction to Bilingual Education and English Language Learners.  After 40 years of organizing in the College of Education to meet the immediate needs of Chicano/Latino and other diverse students, with a continuing drop out rate of near 50% for Latino students and Hmong students, among others, the College of Education and several members of the former BMED department decided to return to a revised version the dysfunctional curriculum of the 1970's.   Adding some 4-8 Latino faculty to BMED, and several to Teacher Education, had the effect of allowing Latino faculty to vote on this issue.  It did not effect the outcome of the vote. 


This  long march through the institutions has ended for the Bilingual /Multicultural faculty and students at CSU Sacramento.


  On Sat, May 19,2012,  the Bilingual/Multicultural Education Department at CSU-Sacramento graduated its final class.  A movement that began in the  Mexican American Education Project of 1969-1974 came to a close.  See history here: https://sites.google.com/site/democracyandeducationorg/chicano-mexican-american-digital-history-project/mexican-american-education-project


 I retired in 2008 and had little role to play in the decision to abandon this  civil rights project.  In the 15 year history of the department we graduated thousands of new bilingual teachers and educational leaders who, under the prior hegemonic system, would have been sorted out.  These graduates have gone into teaching and schools and influenced thousands of students.   Under the new system, they will again often be discarded. The drop out rate for Chicano students remains near 50%.  Using a new format for counting school leaving, the US Dept. of Education in 2012, counted the Latino school leaving rate as 30%.

We know how to significantly lower the drop out rate- it requires skilled, committed teachers.  Many of the teachers – not all- should be from the students’ own culture.

The students are still there.  The students of California still need bilingual and multicultural teachers.   Students who are descendents of Mexican and Chicano families now make up almost 48% of public school students.

There were state budget cuts, but a united faculty could have retained the department if they so chose.  Instead, a new generation of faculty chose to abandon this institutional base that had been created by their predecessors. 

While the elimination of the BMED department remains a serious loss, the best measure of the value of the department is to recognize the ongoing contributions of our graduates. There are fine teachers, administrators, and university faculty working every day to continue the contribution to social justice and Chicano empowerment.  We assisted these organizers by preparing them and providing them with credentials needed to continue the struggle. 

            The termination of the BMED ended one of the important collective efforts to provide educational equity for Chicano/Latino students at Sac State.   It ended one of the largest and most effective equity efforts in the CSU and in the north of the state and in so doing seriously impaired the College’s effort toward constructing a democratic society.

 Change toward social justice almost always occurs as a collective effort, not an individual effort. Individual faculty remain in the College, but the collective effort has been terminated.

In August of 2012, California public schools are in crisis- and they are getting worse, particularly the schools serving low income students.   This is a direct result of massive budget cuts imposed by the legislature and the governor in the last four years during the economic crisis.  Total per pupil expenditure is down by over $1,000 per student. The result- massive class size increases.   Students are in often classes too large for learning.  Supplementary services such as tutoring and art classes have been eliminated.  Over 14,000 teachers have been dismissed, and thousands more face lay offs this fall.

           Latino descent students now constitute 50.1% of the total k-12 school population. Schools and teachers promote either equality or they promote  inequality.   Schools, whether public or private, or university teacher preparation programs  can teach and support democratic values or they reinforce authoritarian, anti democratic values and thus increase the hostile divisions in our society. 

    Update. 2013. In place of the prior, successful Bilingual/Multicultural Department with a strategy of change based upon the nature of culture and recognition of racial oppression in this society and its schools, the College has taken a business-functional approach.   It has subsumed the previous departments that had specific missions-- such as serving culturally and linguistically diverse students or students with disabilities--, and placed them in three general divisions, Undergraduate, Credentials, and Graduate.  In creating a new one size fits all  teacher preparation curriculum it has bowed to test driven mandates (PACT)  by eliminating required courses in multicultural education. It has become just another  College of Education with all of its merits and demerits.

    This “we are all multicultural now” approach is based upon assumptions including that Latino students and other students of color  are best served with the same teacher preparation program designed for the dominant majority group.  It assumes that  Mexican American students, although significantly under represented in enrollment and kept from their own history  by a colonized university curriculum, do not benefit from a cohort experience where they are the majority- the strategy of equal status interaction- and other empowerment strategies.

The College of Education faculty, including faculty of color, have voted to move away from a commitment to equity strategies, civil rights, human rights and social justice.  Rather than seek justice  they have passed a resolution endorsing these goals. 

Update.  A faculty member in the former  department has published a nuanced description of the process used to terminate the department.  It is here.

William-White, L. (2012). Advocating for Multicultural Education and Social Justice in the Age of Economic Uncertainty, International Review of Qualitative Research. 5(2), 175-204.

This post dedicated to the memory of  Dr. Hugo Chacon, Dr. Tom Carter and Dr. Vicky Jew.