It is called the Seal of Biliteracy, created in 2008 by the advocacy group Californians Together. Thirty-five states and the District are putting it on diplomas, but it is so under the radar that many students never hear of it until they receive it. Read article.
Here are the issues covered in this first podcast:
How has the Seal of Biliteracy evolved from a California-based grassroots movement to a highly regarded program offered in 35 states and the District of Columbia? How might offering the seal of biliteracy help school districts strengthen their language programs for all learners? What pathways and checkpoints are built into the journey toward the seal of biliteracy to help guide students toward the ultimate goal of biliteracy?
And here are the issues covered in the second podcast:
How are districts assessing criteria to achieve the Seal of Biliteracy? What supports are available for teachers with diverse groups of language learners? How can the Seal of Biliteracy help mitigate larger issues, like home language loss and equity in education?
My recent visit to Cahuenga Elementary School in Los Angeles gave me a glimpse of what California’s future could be if we seize the opportunity to expand the teaching of world languages.
At Cahuenga, beginning in kindergarten, many students learn Korean or Spanish along with English, while learning about Korean and Latin culture through music, dance, theater and literature. These dual-language immersion programs, like 400 others in California public schools, put students on the path to fluency in two or more languages.
Numerous studies show that fluency in another language boosts students’ mental flexibility and enhances their ability to learn all subjects, including their native language.
Bilingual students have to switch back and forth between languages, which helps them develop strong attention control and skills that help them academically and socially. They often understand language structures better than their single-language peers, giving them a potential advantage in reading and writing.
Learning a foreign language introduces students to new cultures, giving them a broad perspective that helps prepare them for the global economy. Bilingual students are in high demand and generally earn slightly higher salaries once they enter the workforce.
This exciting research inspired me to launch Global California 2030, which seeks to double the number of world language classes taught in California schools, more than double the number of bilingual teachers authorized each year and more than triple the number of graduating high school students who receive a state seal of biliteracy on their diplomas. Perhaps most importantly, it seeks to quadruple the number of dual language immersion programs to 1,600 by 2030.
In 2016, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 58 and removed outdated barriers to setting up dual immersion programs, signaling clearly that they want more such programs.
Yet these programs are so scarce, parents sometimes have to win a lottery to enroll their child. That needs to change. Every parent should have the opportunity to let their child learn a second language at an early age.
That’s why I support Assembly Bill 2514, which is currently pending in the Legislature. This bill, introduced by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, provides 10 grants of $300,000 to local districts to help them set up dual-language immersion programs, developmental bilingual programs for English learners, or early learning dual language programs.
I am urging educators, parents and community leaders to join my efforts to pass this legislation and to enact the broader goals of Global California 2030. Fluency in two languages helps our students succeed academically, socially and economically, while strengthening the rich mixture of heritages and languages that help California stay a global economic and cultural leader.
Tom Torlakson is state Superintendent of Public Instruction. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
In this article, Allison Briceño, one of the fellows in our English Leadership & Legacy Initiative (ELLLI) answers the important question: What does the English Learner Roadmap mean for teachers?
Californians Together, in collaboration with the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE), has developed the EL Leadership & Legacy Initiative (ELLLI) as a three year effort that will initially result in a group of nineteen new English Learner (EL) education advocates/leaders. The EL fellows will be equipped to advance proactive projects as well as to respond effectively to anticipated political challenges at state and local levels. In addition to the preparation of selected cohorts of new EL leaders, the project aims to make more widely available an EL leadership and legacy curriculum that can empower many other leaders at the local, regional and state levels. The project will draw on the perspectives of many senior EL leaders, and current advocates for ELs and will use a blend of whole group training insinuates, one-on-one coaching and mentoring and project based experiences.