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SACRAMENTO (AP) - A state senator wants to repeal California's 16-year-old ban on bilingual education in public schools.

Ricardo Lara on Thursday proposed putting a measure on the November 2016 ballot giving voters the chance to overturn Proposition 227.

The Southern California Democrat says English will always remain California's official language but the ability to speak more than one language is an invaluable skill in the global economy.

Proposition 227 required schools to teach only in English - even to students who spoke little or no English - unless their parents signed a waiver.

Lara says the percentage of elementary school-age students enrolled in multilingual programs declined from 39 percent in 1997 - the year before the ballot measure - to 13 percent in 2001.