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Rep. Jimmy Panetta Introduces World LEAP Act, Establishing Language Education Grants Program




We are excited to announce the introduction of the World Language Education Assistance Program (World LEAP) Act. Over the past year, the JNCL-NCLIS team has been working closely with Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) to design this legislation with the support of our advocates and member organizations. We are thrilled to see it move forward and are eager to support next steps.


The World LEAP Act will establish the first K-12 world language and dual language education grants program at the U.S. Department of Education in over 14 years. This important legislation prioritizes funding for the development of programs offered across all socioeconomic and demographic groups, builds opportunity for heritage and English language learners, requires a reservation of funds for professional development, and promotes career pathways that will generate economic success for our nation.



Rep. Jimmy Panetta Introduces Legislation to Foster Language Programs for K-12 Students


United States Representative Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), House Co-Chair of the America’s Languages Caucus, introduced the World Language Education Assistance Program (or World LEAP) Act (H.R. 5603) to establish a first-of-its-kind world language and dual language education grants program for K-12 schools. Recently, higher education institutions have moved to eliminate world language offerings in addition to state efforts to end language immersion programs. Rep. Panetta’s legislation would ensure language instruction remains a critical component of education curricula.


Recent reports demonstrate how America’s language capacity has reached a critical breaking point, creating real world implications for business, government, the military, and diplomatic and intelligence services. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), approximately, nine out of ten U.S. employers rely on employees with world language skills, but one in three foreign language-dependent employers reports a language skills gap and one in four employers lost business due to a lack of foreign language skills.


“World language education needs our support now more than ever, given recent cuts to university language programs and a few state efforts to end language immersion programs,” said Rep. Panetta. “The World Language Education Assistance Program Act would support language education in the U.S. by creating a grant program to allow school districts the opportunity to improve and expand their world language programs. These type of grant programs could support both language professionals and students and enrich education across the country, promoting career pathways that strengthen our nation and international relationships.”


Specifically, the World LEAP Act would establish at the U.S. Department of Education a multi-year grant program to allow school districts to establish, improve, and carry out projects that improve and expand world language or dual language programs. The legislation would also provide professional development opportunities for world language educators that are sustained, intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused while supporting pathways for paraprofessionals to gain educator certifications and licenses.


“Developing this legislation with Congressman Panetta's office has been an honor,” said Amanda Seewald, Executive Director of the Joint National Committee for Languages and National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS). “We are thrilled to see the World Language Education Assistance Program (World LEAP) Act introduced to nationalize the crucial discussion of language education as an essential facet of K-12 learning in the United States. The World LEAP Act will establish the first K-12 world language and dual language education grants program at the U.S. Department of Education in over 14 years. This important legislation prioritizes funding for the development of programs offered across all socio-economic and demographic groups, builds opportunity for heritage and English language learners, requires a reservation of funds for professional development, and promotes career pathways that will generate economic success for our nation. JNCL-NCLIS proudly endorses the World LEAP Act and is grateful to Congressman Panetta for his leadership.”


“ACTFL and its nearly 12,000 language educator and administrator members proudly supports the introduction of World LEAP, and thanks Rep. Panetta for his steadfast support of this seminal piece of legislation,” said Howie Berman, Executive Director of ACTFL. “While we have much to celebrate as a community, we are faced with growing challenges in the profession, most notably ensuring a diverse, well-prepared, and highly effective language teacher workforce for generations to come. The provisions in World LEAP will go far to address this, as well as to reach our goal of language access for ALL learners throughout this country.”


“World LEAP would help to finally realize the goal of California's Proposition 58, Education for a Global Economy (EdGE) Initiative passed in 2016,” said Martha Hernandez, Executive Director of Californians Together. “This milestone opened doors to increased access to language programs for students from diverse backgrounds. However, despite the enthusiasm of districts to establish dual language immersion programs, a pressing issue remains: the severe shortage of bilingual teachers in the state. The World Language Education Assistance Program (World LEAP) Act addresses the critical need for qualified bilingual educators in California by offering financial support, pathways for professional growth, and a commitment to equitable access to language programs, thereby enriching the educational experience for students of all backgrounds in the state.”


The World LEAP Act is endorsed by over 75 world-language advocacy organizations including; the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Alaskans for Language Acquisition, American Association of Teachers of French, American Association of Teachers of German, American Association of Teachers of Japanese, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP), American Councils for International Education, American Federation of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Avant Assessment, California Association of Japanese Language Teachers (CAJLT), California Department of Education, California Language Teachers' Association. (CLTA), Californians Together, Center for Applied Linguistics, Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools (CLASS), Coalition of Community-Based Heritage Language Schools, CT Council of Language Teachers (CT COLT), Czech and Slovak School of North Carolina, DECTFL (Delaware Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages), Dr. Seshi's International Centre & Academy for Multi-Languaging, Inc, FLENJ: Fellowship of Language Educators of New Jersey, Fluency Consulting LLC, Foreign Language Association of Georgia, Foreign Language Association of MO, Foreign Language Association of North Carolina, Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA), Global Seal of Biliteracy, Global Virginia, ICTFL Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Idioma Education & Consulting LLC, Indiana Foreign Language Teachers Association (IFLTA), International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT), International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Julia Koch, LLC, Kansas World Language Association, Kentucky World Language Association (KWLA), Klett World Languages, La Piazza Italian School, and Language Magazine.


This legislation is also endorsed by; MAFLA ( MA Foreign Language Association), MARACAS / Learning Kaleidoscope, Maryland Foreign Language Association, Meg Language (Meg LLC), Metabi, Inc., Michigan World Language Association, Mississippi Foreign Language Association, Modern Language Association, Mountain Views Supervisory Union, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Committee for Latin and Greek (NCLG), National Council of Organization of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL), National Council of State Supervisors for Languages NCSSFL, National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations, Network of Business Language Educators (NOBLE), New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers (NHAWLT), New Mexico Organization of Language Educators (NMOLÉ), New York State Association for Language Teachers, Inc., New York State Association of World Language Administrators (NYSAWLA), Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Ohio Foreign Language Association OFLA, Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers Association OFLTA, Providence Public Schools, Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association PSMLARIFLA: Rhode Island for Languages Association, Second Language Teaching & Research Center (L2TReC) University of Utah, South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers' Association, Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT), Tennessee Language Center, TESOL International Association, The Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, The Language Group LLC, Utah Foreign Language Association, Vermont Foreign Language Association, Wisconsin Association for Language Teachers, WVFLTA - West Virginia Foreign Language Teachers Association, Wyoming Association of Language Teachers (WALT), and Xperitas.






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About JNCL-NCLIS:

Established in 1972, the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) unites a national network of leading organizations and businesses comprised of over 300,000 language professionals to advocate for equitable language learning opportunities. Our mission is to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language.


Contact: info@languagepolicy.org

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