Significant Victories for JNCL-NCLIS Language Education Legislative Priorities, House Appropriations
Updated: Jul 15, 2021
JNCL-NCLIS-supported report language addressing equitable access to Seal of Biliteracy programs has been successfully included in the House Committee on Appropriations draft report.
By: Jon Bernstein and Alissa Rutkowski
Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, July 14th, the House Committee on Appropriations released the draft report for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations for Fiscal Year 2022.
JNCL-NCLIS and its members have advocated for federal legislation to support the creation and implementation of Seal of Biliteracy programs across the country for the past several years. Earlier this year, the Biliteracy Education and Seal Teaching Act (BEST Act) was introduced by Representative Brownley (D-CA-26) and Senator Schatz (D-HI).
JNCL-NCLIS has also been working closely with Representative Brownley on a new strategic pathway to secure funding for subsidizing students' fees for Seal of Biliteracy assessments and provide more equitable access for all learners to earn the distinction. We are pleased to announce that JNCL-NCLIS-supported report language, which appears below, has been successfully included in the full committee report:
Seal of Biliteracy Programs.—The Committee recognizes that State seal of biliteracy programs, adopted and implemented in more than 80 percent of the States, enrich society by encouraging bilingual and multilingual education and demonstrating to employers and higher education institutions that students have attained proficiency in English and one other language. The Committee recognizes that ELs and heritage language learners lag behind world language students in attaining seals of biliteracy. To that end, the Committee is strongly supportive of LEAs using funds available under ESEA for costs associated with seal of biliteracy benchmark proficiency assessments and final assessments for EL and heritage language learners. The Committee notes that funds available under ESEA may be used to purchase the hardware and software necessary to administer these critical assessments.
While adoption of this report language in a final conference report would not have the force of law, it would demonstrate to states and school districts that Congress values Seal of Biliteracy programs and supports efforts to augment EL and Heritage Language Learners in such programs.
Several additional sections in the House’s report language also represent significant victories for JNCL-NCLIS’ priorities. First, the report reveals that the Committee has approved the reservation of $3 million to establish a Native American Language Resource Center, the central aim of the Native American Language Resource Center Act. Second, the report addresses the need for continued support of the English Learner (ELs) population including increased funding for translation and interpretation services to provide ELs with quality educational opportunities. Finally, the report contains a strong statement on the need to invest in federal foreign language and cultural competency programs, which coordinates closely with the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill report language that seeks a detailed report.
The House Appropriations Committee will mark-up and likely approve the bill and report on July 15th, with the full House expected to debate and pass them before August. The Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee has not yet begun its appropriations process for any funding bill.
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.