CATESOL Resolution on Proposition 187


Although Proposition 187 was passed by a majority of the voters of California in November, 1994, its implementation has been delayed by the courts. The reason for this, among others, is that it violates the Supreme Court Decision of Plyler vs. Doe, which states that children living in the United States have the constitutional right to education under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. As a result of this delay in implementation, educators do not have to deal with the consequences of Proposition 187 at the present time. Nevertheless, because the possible future enforcement of this proposition could have a direct impact on ESOL instructors and administrators, and because of the great moral dilemma this proposition will bring about for educators in the future if any part of it is implemented, the CATESOL Board of Directors and the CATESOL membership have approved the following resolution:

Whereas Proposition 187 violates Federal law by denying the right of a free public education to children living in the United States;

Whereas the enforcement of provisions of this proposition violates the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which prohibits the release of information about public school students except in the most limited of circumstances;

Whereas the enforcement of this proposition may require ESOL teachers to assist in the identification of suspected undocumented persons, a task which should not be within the realm of teachers' responsibilities;

Whereas the process of identifying suspected undocumented students could lead to needless discrimination and harassment of the majority of the LEP population, those who reside legally in the United States;

Whereas the enforcement of this proposition would interfere with the educational process by creating a climate of suspicion in the classroom, impeding our ability to provide a quality learning environment;

Whereas the enforcement of this proposition would promote discrimination against specific ethnic groups according to the color of their skin, their accent, or their names;

Whereas the enforcement of this proposition could turn away more than 300,000 students from California's public schools, thereby creating a class of undereducated people;

Whereas the enforcement of this proposition would potentially threaten the jobs of teachers who cannot morally support its provisions;

Whereas the enforcement of this proposition would promote the dissolution of families by bringing about the deportation of family members who may not yet have legal residency;

Whereas the enforcement of this proposition in California would encourage similar legislation in other states of the U.S., thereby bringing about similar negative and immoral consequences;


  • Encourage teachers to abide by current Federal law.
  • Endorse teachers' refusal to solicit or provide information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of students.
  • Investigate filing a "friend of the court" brief in opposition to the implementation of Proposition 187, and encourage TESOL to do the same.
  • Actively educate others regarding the issues involved in Proposition 187 by doing the following:
    • publishing articles in the CATESOL Newsletter.
    • communicating its position on 187 with TESOL and its affiliates.
    • facilitating conference presentations on the topic.
    • disseminating this resolution to schools and other educational agencies at their request.
  • Coordinate with other educational groups to overturn what we consider to be an unconstitutional law.