1927: Spanish Language May Be Taught In Schools In Certain Counties

In a previous Act of the legislature passed a few years before, the Texas state legislature had passed a sweeping attack on bilingual education in the state of Texas in an act forbidding the use of languages other than English in Texas schools; by 1927, it became clear from community and teacher complaints that the text of the act effectively forbade even teaching foreign languages as courses in Texas schools. The Legislature passed a second act, amending the first Act to preserve the ban on languages other than English outside of foreign-language classes, but with an exception to allow for teaching foreign languages, including Spanish, German, and Bohemian (the original targets of the English-only law, which in the 19th century had been used in many community schools as a primary language of instruction).

Spanish Language May Be Taught in Schools in Certain Counties

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Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas:

Section 1. That Article 288 of the Penal Code of the State of Texas adopted at the Regular Session of the Thirty-Ninth Legislature, 1925, be and the same is hereby amended so as to read as follows:

“Art. 288. Except as herein provided, each teacher, principal and superintendent employed in the public free schools of this State shall use the English language exclusively in the conduct of the work of the schools and recitations and exercises of the school shall be conducted in the English language, and the trustees shall not prescribe any texts for elementary grades not printed in English; provided, however, that it shall be lawful to provide text books for and to teach the Spanish language in elementary grades in the public free schools in counties bordering on the boundary line between the United States and the Republic of Mexico and having a city or cities of five thousand or more inhabitants according to the United States census for the year 1920. It is lawful to teach Latin, Greek, French, German, Spanish, Bohemian or other language as a branch of study in the high school grades as outlined in the state course of study. Any such teacher, principal, superintendent, trustee, or other school official having responsibility in the conduct of the work of such schools who fails to comply with the provisions of this article shall be fined not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred dollars, cancellation of certificate or removal from office, or both fine and such cancellation or fine and removal from office.

Sec. 2. The fact that under the present law it is unlawful to teach Spanish in the elementary grades in the public free schools of this State and that in counties having cities of over five thousand population bordering on the boundary line between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, a knowledge of the Spanish language is of inestimable value to the citizens and inhabitants of such counties and cities, and the fact that in order to obtain a speaking knowledge and mastery of any foreign language, it is imperative that instruction in such language be begun at the earliest possible period and the crowded condition of the calendar creates an emergency and an imperative [268] public necessity that the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days in each House be suspended and that this Act take effect and be in force from and after its passage, and said rule is hereby suspended, and it is so enacted.

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Approved March 28, 1927.

Effective (90) ninety days after adjournment.

H. P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1927: Supplement Volume to the Original Ten Volumes, 1822-1897 (Austin, Texas: Gammel's Book Store, 1927), 283-284 (link).

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