Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) announced the reintroduction of the Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching Act (BEST) Act. The bill establishes a federal grant program to help states create and implement a Seal of Biliteracy program that encourages and recognizes high school students who achieve proficiency in both English and at least one other language to better enable young people to compete in the global workforce. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
“Our national security, and our economy, rely on language proficiency,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “Biliteracy prepares our students to succeed in today’s globalized and competitive economy. By ensuring states establish and carry out a Seal of Biliteracy program, we can properly equip our students with language proficiency while also better safeguarding our future national security.”
“Learning a second language not only helps students perform better in school, but also improves problem-solving skills and chances at professional success,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “In Hawaiʻi, our students have the unique opportunity to earn a seal of biliteracy for fluency in the Hawaiian language. Our bill will improve and expand this important program nationwide so that every student can be properly recognized for learning a second language.”
“It is imperative that the United States recognize multilingualism as an essential element in supporting the educational pipeline that prepares students to succeed as global citizens,” said Amanda Seewald, President of the Joint National Committee for Languages–National Council for Languages and International Studies. “We thank Congresswoman Brownley and Senator Schatz for introducing the BEST Act which would facilitate equitable implementation of programs to allow every student in America the opportunity to achieve a Seal of Biliteracy. We are proud to support the reintroduction of the BEST Act and stand read to provide any additional support.
California’s State Seal of Biliteracy program was first established in 2011 when legislation sponsored by then-Assemblywoman Brownley was signed into law. Since then, over 250,000 high school students have graduated with this seal in California. In the 2018-2019 school year, 1,086 schools in California participated in the program. The program has also been replicated in 41 states and the District of Columbia, which have each approved and established their own statewide Seal of Biliteracy programs. The BEST Act was passed by the House of Representatives in July 2020 during the 116th Congress.
Read the full text of the bill, here.