OUR RECENT WINS:
This year we passed our first bill: to expand funding for dual language programs
We have worked with School Boards across the greater Seattle area to put policies in place that honor bilingualism as an asset of ELL students.
To give one leading example, we worked with the Highline School Board, which governs one of the most diverse student bodies in Washington state, to unanimously pass a Home Language Resolution. Highline’s School Board Resolution affirms their commitment to ensuring students develop and maintain home language, expanding Highline’s dual language, world language, and community language opportunities for students, and diversify their teacher workforce. Within its Resolution (07-16), the School Board also formally endorsed the goals of our Speak Your Language campaign to complement their existing goal that every student graduates bilingual and biliterate by 2025.
In our ongoing efforts to close the opportunity gap for immigrant families in the education system, OneAmerica also advocated for the expansion of the World Language Credit Program through south King County. The World Language Credit program is an elective credits program through which students can receive up to four (4) elective credits for fluency in a non-English language. These credits are used toward graduation and are required by four-year colleges in Washington. By working with legislators in Olympia, we were able to assure that the World Language Credit program was extended to many districts including all seven school districts in south King County.
OneAmerica played a key role in passing the Seal of Biliteracy in Washington. The Seal of Biliteracy honors an important, innate asset held by many students in our school systems: their home language. The Seal of Biliteracy is a graduation diploma feature for students who have demonstrated proficiency and literacy in a language other than English through Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) testing, or by qualifying for achieved the full four (4) World Language Competency-Based Credits. In partnership with a number of allies, OneAmerica and our coalition partners passed this important piece of legislation to strengthen systematic support and positive recognition of bilingual students statewide.
Read the Seal of Biliteracy Bill here: Washington SB 6424
In 2015, the campaign successfully advocated for and secured funding in the Washington state operating budget to pilot grant funding for dual-language programs, modeled after legislation in Oregon. Dual language programs immerse students in two languages, with one language introducing concepts and information while the other will generally reinforce them. Our coalition of parents, educators and advocates wrote and designed the bill.
The 2017-19 Dual Language Grant Program (SHB 1445) resulted in five school districts receiving grants to either develop or assist dual language programs. Selah, Mabton and Bethel each receive $50,000 a year for two years. Meanwhile, Wenatchee and Bellevue take on the role of ‘mentor schools’ and receive state funding for their role assisting those districts with their dual language programs.
The purpose of this grant program is to grow capacity for high quality preschool and K-12 dual language programs in Washington, including building native dual language programs in tribal compact schools. The funding amount also increases for dual language programs in a language other than Spanish. Funds can be used for key start-up costs such as professional learning, dual language program design, and bilingual educator recruitment.
These programs boost opportunities for English Language Learners while providing an immersive experience in both languages for all students. Because of these grants, hundreds of students in Washington have already had a radically different, powerful experience in kindergarten and beyond!
Watch the video about Bethel’s dual language program: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MGJSgi84qcs
Our teams worked tirelessly with a broad coalition of stakeholders and policymakers to develop and advocate for a state bill that expands capacity for Dual Language programs across the state. Together we attended school board meetings, wrote letters to legislators, held meetings with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education, and traveled to Olympia to make the case for dual-language education to the powers that be.
The Bill we helped pass, SHB 1445, provides a comprehensive approach to dual-language instruction for early learning and K-12 students, and is a pioneering model for culturally relevant education aimed at preserving students’ home languages while giving students who may have grown up speaking English only the opportunity to become bilingual.
The Dual Language Bill allocated funding for grants to school districts to establish or expand dual language classrooms, with additional incentives for programs in a language other than Spanish. Included in this is is also funding to build capacity within early learning to better serve and support young dual language learners.
In addition this bill also provides grants to school districts to establish long-term strategies to recruit, prepare and mentor bilingual high school students to become bilingual teachers and counselors in the future.
Read more about the Dual Language Bill here: