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Ebonics is the name given to what linguists refer to as BE Black English or African American Vernacular English1 Black English has been around since the time of slavery and the slave trade in the United States It is a mixture of West African languages such as Ibo Yoruba and Hausa and English which has been passed down from generation to generation of African Americans The use of ebonics has revitalized in popularity among many African American students in California schools This has brought on a heated debate over the teaching use of ebonics in our school system On December 18 1996 the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education approved a policy affirming Standard American English language development for all students Language development for African American students who comprise 53 of the students in the Oakland schools will be enhanced with the recognition and understanding of the language structures unique to African American students2 The O akland School Districts implementation of this policy created a plethora of criticism and support from many In response to Oaklands Ebonics policy California State Senator Ray Haynes of Riverside introduced a bill that would penalize schools that support the instruction of ebonics The Equality in English Insrtuction Act SB 205 would prohibit the state from expending state funds or resources or applying for federal funding for the purpose of or support for Ebonics instruction This bill would require any funding that already has been obtained for the purpose of or support for Ebonics instruction be instead used for the classroom teaching of linguistic or communication skills in the English language The bill would require the State Department of Education to submit written recommendations within 90 days of the operative date of the bill to the Legislature regarding the structure and implementation of a program that would provide financial incentives to sch ool districts that improve linguistic or communication skills of students in low-income areas of
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