Title

The “Native English Speaker” as Indigenous Replacement: California English Learner Classification Policies and Settler Grammar Expressions of Immigrant Nationhood

Publication Date

5-3-2020

Document Type

Article

Department

Humanities

Publication Title

Educational Studies - AESA

Volume

56

Issue

3

DOI

10.1080/00131946.2020.1745805

First Page

233

Last Page

247

Abstract

Though California’s English Learner (EL) policies were developed in response to civil rights struggles for language access and equal educational opportunity, they are also conditioned by the history of U.S. settler and overseas conquest. This article presents a Critical Policy Analysis (CPA) of the California EL classification policies and situates them within the historical context of U.S. empire as enacted through English. By examining the 1976 Chacon-Moscone Bilingual-Bicultural Education Act and the CA Home Language Survey within this framework, I argue that the CA EL policies employ a legal discourse of educational equality to articulate what Calderon terms a “settler grammar” that institutionalizes the narrative of America as an immigrant nation. In this manner, I maintain that the CA EL classification policies produce the “native English speaker” as a hegemonic construct that imagines Indigenous absence and white settler replacement as natural, all the while redacting the ongoing scripting of settler colonialism. The juxtaposition of “English Learners” as an abstract category, I argue, then reifies the narrative of white migrant origination and immigrant nationhood by obscuring U.S. empire through a seemingly democratic and equitable incorporation of racialized English Learners into the settler state, structured by development toward “native” English fluency.

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