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Is Congress Lagging in Nationwide Push for Language Learning?

By
Corey Mitchell
Source
Education Week
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The U.S. House of Representatives is called into session on opening day of the 115th Congress, Jan. 3, 2017.
The U.S. House of Representatives is called into session on opening day of the 115th Congress, Jan. 3, 2017. (Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Since the seal of biliteracy was introduced in California earlier this decade, its popularity has surged in states across the country.

But a federal bill that would fund U.S. Department of Education grants to help states and school districts establish and strengthen programs has repeatedly sputtered in Congress.

As a state legislator in California, now-U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley authored the legislation that established the state's seal of biliteracy in 2011, but hasn't had similar success on Capitol Hill.

Since she came to Congress in 2013, Brownley's Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act has largely been ignored. The legislation would establish federal grants, $10 million annually from fiscal 2020 through fiscal 2024, to cover the administrative costs of setting up and administering a seal of biliteracy program, as well as for public outreach.

Prospects for this measure moving forward remain slim, especially with a $40 million price tag.

A 2017 report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences' Commission on Language Learning—commissioned by Congress to determine how language learning influences economic growth, diplomacy, and the productivity of future generations—found that public schools and state departments of education have struggled to find qualified world language instructors and are unequipped to track local and national trends on language learning.

Despite the alarms raised in the study, no federal legislation has emerged to address those issues.

. . .

View full story: Education Week
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Project

Commission on Language Learning

Chair
Paul LeClerc