This reports argues that much of what actually occurs in bilingual education depends on the discourse and resulting policies at the school district level, and that is one reason why the construction of "bilingual education" varies so greatly and can be seen so positively or so negatively by the very clientele it is supposed to serve. Not surprisingly, within each school district the very definition of second language education centers on interpretations of bow to deliver it—specifically on whether and how to recruit bilingual teachers and whether to implement curricula that are at all oriented toward English-learning pupils' language needs and culture.
The report shows that implementation at the district level depends on how four specific issues are resolved: 1) the recruitment of certified bilingual teachers; 2) the "ghettoization" and politicization of bilingual education; 3) race relations in the district; and 4) a community consensus on bilingual education as a pedagogical strategy across language needs. Based on interviews and analysis of second language policies in four California school districts, it is suggested that these issues and the discourse around them directly affect the type and design of programs which are implemented in each district. Further, the way that the national debates are reflected in local administrative interpretations and action are crucial to defining the practice of bilingual education.