Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) reintroduced the Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act. The bill establishes a federal grant program to help states establish a Biliteracy Seal program that encourages and recognizes high school students who achieve proficiency in English and a second language, and that better enables these young people to compete in the global workforce.
“With back-to-school season underway, it is an important time to be focused on setting up America’s young people to succeed,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “We all know how much being proficient in a second language can give you a leg up in today’s globalized, competitive economy. Students in other countries are receiving strong multilingual educations, and America must do more to ensure our young people can compete. Helping states nationwide adopt a Biliteracy Seal program will better prepare our children to succeed in the global workforce and sends a clear signal that our nation is seriously committed to this endeavor.”
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 146,000 students from California have graduated with this seal. In the 2015-2016 school year, 843 schools across 291 school districts in California participated in the program. The program has also been replicated in 26 states and the District of Columbia, which have each approved and established their own statewide Biliteracy Seal programs.
The BEST Act is cosponsored by Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and Rick Nolan (D-MN). It is also supported by the California Association for Bilingual Education, California School Board Association, Californians Together, Early Edge, the National Council for Languages and International Studies, and Unidos Us.
“California has recognized the talents and gifts of over 146,000 graduating seniors who speak English and over 30 other languages by granting them the State Seal of Biliteracy,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director of Californians Together. “These students are a valuable resource to our state and nation. The BEST Act will encourage states across this nation to join California and 26 other states in valuing multilingual students who will be our future teachers, doctors, lawyers, and business and community leaders.”
“The success and growth of the Seal of Biliteracy in 27 states and the District of Columbia demonstrates that over half of our nation recognizes how important and enriching it is to be proficient in English and another language,” said Jan Gustafson-Corea, CEO of the California Association for Bilingual Education. “Communicating and performing academically in more than one language opens doorways of opportunity for our students, and offers our nation broader opportunities for global success, national security, and economic growth. Let’s provide this opportunity for all students in all 50 states!”