It's been a long debate, how to best teach children who don't speak English as a first language. Question 2 English immersion measure passed back in 2002. That law mandated that public school teachers shouldn't speak any language other than English in their classrooms for extended periods of time. Opponents of the measure have been fighting it ever since and now for the first time, a bill is before lawmakers that might change it.

Lawmakers are in a last minute scramble to get bills passed before the session ends in July, but state representative Jeff Sanchez of Jamaica Plain has been working for more than a decade on what he calls "The Look Bill" that would modify the current English Immersion Law. He says, "I felt that the premise for that law was incorrect and the data that we have shows that that initiative was absolutely wrong. We've gone through essentially a generation and a half of kids that have been under-performing in school districts across the state."

English immersion essentially gives students a year to learn the language and Sanchez says it's not working. "It's difficult for these students to learn the language that quickly. What this bill would allow is districts to come up with their own district plans to take into consideration the intricacies and the dynamics of the populations."

Rosalie Porter -- who was one of three people who co-chaired the 2002 campaign called "English For The Children" -- says the law is working and a new proposed bill is a mistake. "We had had bilingual education programs for 30 years. I was a bilingual teacher I taught Spanish/English, at first I thought it was a good idea, but quickly learned it didn't help the children, it segregated them by language and ethnicity. We don't need it, under the present law it requires structured English immersion, but it does allow if a group of parents want to have a bilingual program they can have it but a school district cannot dictate it. It has to come from the families."

State Representative Sanchez says it does not have to come from families, it has to come from educators. And he says it's clear why. "The dropout rate for this group is three times what is would be for regular education students and the graduation rate for this group of students and the graduation rates is 63 percent as opposed to the mass average rate of 86 percent."

Miren Uriarte is a former professor and education policy researcher at UMass Boston and says research shows that a one size fit all approach to bilingual education doesn't work. "Over time everybody has realized that its way to narrow to have one type of instruction. Basically it forces students to really learn content not English but content math, biology, or social sciences in English rather than in their own language so that they begin to fall behind."

Uriarte says the new bill will give educators a little breathing room.

"I think in Boston alone is 70 languages within the schools. It allows for different kinds of programs to be created."

Rosalie Porter says what it would create is chaos, just like there was before 2002.

"This bill would open up a whole can of worms."

The bill is now in the hands of lawmakers who don't have that much time. The legislative session ends next month.