Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



Sudbeck, K. M. (2015). Educational language planning and policy in Nebraska: An historical overview. The Nebraska Educator, 2, 70-99.


Historically, educational language policies have been utilized in order to eradicate, subjugate, and marginalize certain language varieties. Therefore, they have become "instruments of power that influence access to educational and economic resources" (Johnson, 2013, p. 54). More recently, educational language policies have also been used to "develop, maintain, and promote" minoritized languages (p. 54). The role of language policy and planning with educational settings, therefore, should be crtiically examined. This manuscript features two key components. First, the term language planning and policy will be (re) conceptualized as both a field of inquiry and a social practice involving three core activities (i.e., status planning, corpus planning, and acquisition planning). Next, these concepts will be applied to one context, educational language policies within the state of Nebraska. The historical sociopolitical context of anti-German sentiment will be revealed, featuring a vignette about one German immigrant's story in particular. Then, Nebraska's implementation of an English-Only law in 1919 will be discussed, as well as the subsequent Federal Supreme Court Case Meyer v. Nebraska in 1923. Finally, current trends regarding Indigenous, colonial and immigrant heritage languages will be explored, accompanied by a reflection on areas for future research.