Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974

The year of 1974 marked a high point for advocates of bilingual education, as the U.S. Supreme Court decided Lau v. Nichols and the U.S. Congress enacted the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA). Both the Supreme Court and the Congress declared that English language learners (ELLs) have a right to meaningful instruction in a language they understand. Subsequent court cases, however, have created substantial challenges to the realization of this right.

The Legislation

The EEOA was enacted August 21, 1974, to codify the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lau v. Nichols. Lau held that English-only instruction for ELLs deprived such students of meaningful instruction and constituted unlawful national origin discrimination. The EEOA codified this holding by providing that

no state shall deny equal educational opportunity to an individual ...

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