Demand for multilingual education in the District is off the charts, but only 8% of District youth have access to these opportunity-boosting programs. The Mayor’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget DOES NOT include funding for multilingual education which is key to building a city that competes successfully in the global marketplace.
Join us now to urge the DC City Council to add $550,000 in the FY 2019 budget to support and expand multilingual education so that all families, regardless of where they live, have the choice to raise multilingual children who excel academically across subjects, interact effectively with people from different cultures, and have access to a world of opportunity.
DC Language Immersion Project is a nonprofit that advocates, researches and educates about what the District and its residents would stand to gain by implementing bilingual education systemically throughout the District.
As highlighted by a recent Washington Post article, the demand for dual language programs is surging. Most importantly, multilingual education supports the broader District goals of narrowing the achievement gap, improving attendance, decreasing student mobility, and increasing career and college readiness and equity. It is intrinsically related to literacy, not only for our ELs but also for English native speakers.
DC Immersion asked the Education Committee of the DC Council to allocate $550,000 to create and fully fund an Office of Multilingual Education at the State level that is cross-sector, that spans the continuum from early childhood to jobs, that can serve all students, and that can do outreach to the entire District population, regardless of home language.
This office of two staff would be seated under the Office of the State Superintendent for Education or under the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education. The remainder of the $550,000 is for research ($200,000), professional development ($100,000) and parental engagement ($50,000). The function of this office would be to remove barriers and pave the way for stronger support for and expansion of multilingual education in the District. In particular, this office would:
- Craft a long-term vision for multilingual education for the District in collaboration with other District agencies such as the DOES and offices like that of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development;
- Support multilingual education from daycares and out of school programming, all the way to job centers, and in both existing dual language schools and schools in the planning and implementation stages, through being a repository of resources and know-how for, among other things, program design and curriculum development;
- Increase pipelines to bilingual educators in multiple languages, that can serve different age groups;
- Ensure that federal funding is allocated in a way that maximizes the support and implementation of multilingual education in the district;
- Commission and facilitate access to data and research to better understand the demand for bilingual skills, and which bilingual education models work best for our students to inform future policies on multilingual education;
- Procure professional development specific to educating mainstream educators, administrators, and school staff on the rationale for implementing dual language immersion programs;
- Support the cross-sector sharing of best practices relating to multilingual education;
- Work on developing common assessments on languages other than English that meet the needs of our schools and students;
- Ensure data on proficiency in languages other than English is collected and made public;
- Award the Seal of Biliteracy across the District and extend it to elementary and middle schools;
- Engage parents and educators from all wards of the District and regardless of language spoken at home on the benefits of linguistic and cultural competence;
- Award grants to schools which implement dual language programs, as many other states do to incentivize multilingual education.
This is the opportunity for Washington DC to lead the nation in setting the standard for the systemic implementation of bilingual education for ALL students, in all sectors, so our kids can become the most desirable workforce in the nation, and lead the District and the nation to a more equitable and tolerant future.