In the span of the past 13 years, Massachusetts has drawn the interest of federal civil rights officials who found that Boston and 2 other districts were underserving their bilingual learners and required the state to take action. This resulted in the state's current initiative, in which all in-service teachers are required to take the RETELL, a 20-hr. PD sequence focused on how to best serve ELLs in English-only content settings. On the pre-service side, teacher training institutions (like Boston College) have had to provide evidence as to how the content of our courses meets state requirements for teaching ELLs (note that this is happening 13 years after the implementation of the law). It is clear that Structured English immersion (SEI) has taken full hold in our state, with legitimate questions about the language rights of children and families.
With Thomas Menino exiting as mayor after 20 years, we have two candidates interested in education in Boston, and one of their points of interest is 2-way bilingual education. Here is a brief post from EdWeek that provides an overview. The fact that this aspect of ELL education is starting to gain traction in Boston is heartening, and while 2-way is not ideal for all students, schools, or districts (there are implementation difficulties that always need addressing), one hopes that this development represents an initial thaw in the ice age of SEI in Massachusetts.
Of course, equally important is that a new law be on the books in Massachusetts; one that is not a nationalist document that posits ethnocentric grand narratives such as "Immigrant parents are eager to have their children become fluent and literate in English, thereby allowing them to fully participate in the American Dream of economic and social advancement". Native language programs are no better or worse than science education programs in that they must be done well to show evidence of success.
So while Boston's move toward 2-way is laudable, lawmakers in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would do well to show the political courage to implement a law that provides district choice across a variety of program options; a law that shows respect for our bilingual children and families; a law that can be implemented without resulting in denial of educational access to school-age children in Massachusetts.