Monday, May 8, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed SHB 1445, legislation expanding access to dual language learning in schools across Washington state. The bill is a culmination of years of work from educators, organizers and grassroots leaders to equip classrooms for Washington’s students that honors the increasing diversity of language and culture represented in the State’s schools.
Casey Osborn-Hinman, Campaign Director at MomsRising, an online and on-the-ground organization or more than 1 million mothers and their families, praised the passage of the legislation, explaining, “Moms across Washington are applauding Governor Inslee and the state legislature for the passage of this bipartisan effort to fund dual language learning programs in our schools. Dual language programs are critical to closing the academic opportunity gap between native-English and new English speakers, fostering positive identity development for kids of all cultures and building welcoming communities that see the languages and cultures in our neighborhoods as an asset.”
Lauren Hipp, Early Learning Campaign Director for MomsRising.org, added, “Research shows that dual language programs are the best way to increase student achievement for English Language Learners, while also improving education outcomes for native English speaking students. And students who know more than one language have exhibited increased emotional intelligence, stronger problem solving skills, and improved academic outcomes. With more than half of the world’s population speaking two or more languages, creating a bilingual and biliterate workforce will give Washington State a competitive advantage to thrive in a global economy. We hope we continue to increase funding for dual language programs – particularly early education programs – and that this legislation serves as a model for other states to follow .”
MomsRising campaigned for the passage of SHB 1445, driving calls to the state legislature and collecting stories from families who would benefit from the dual language learning program.
“My son is a second grader in a dual language Mandarin-Chinese program in Seattle,” Erin in Seattle wrote. “This dual language education has helped to ensure he’s seeing educators of color in his classrooms. If he were in a traditional classroom I don’t think he would have the same level of diversity in the teaching corps since 92% of teachers in Washington are white. He’s also staying more connected to his racial and ethnic heritage which is helping him develop a positive self-identity. A dual language education is also teaching him empathy and connections vital for an increasingly global world.”
“My son Ezra is three years old and he has been in a Spanish immersion child care and preschool since he was 18 months old. My son has had an amazing experience learning two languages and learning how to navigate multiple cultures,” said Hannah in Seattle. “Every child should have the opportunity to be in a dual language environment. I know from brain research that being able to think and learn in two languages gives children better cognitive flexibility and that matters for the long run. But right now, what I know is that my son can say I love you in two languages.”
“I am bilingual in Spanish and English, but as a single Mom, it’s hard to find the time to teach my child both language, so my daughter is falling behind in Spanish even though I’m trying,” said Kellyn in Tukwile. “Our school, Tukwila Elementary, just started a voluntary Spanish group taught by moms, but I wish my child could learn it full time. It’s good for her brain!”
“Our 3-year-old is in a Spanish-English immersion preschool program and we love it! His first language is English but some of his classmates are native Spanish speakers and they help each other out in each of their first languages,” said Karen in Seattle. “I am continually impressed by the breadth of vocabulary my son has in both English and Spanish and believe the dual language curriculum will make him a better reader, speaker, and thinker in both languages.”
“As a teacher I know the importance of dual language programs in our districts. I support our ELL programs, and urge the government to do the right thing and keep funding for these important programs,” said Emily in Vancouver, Washington.
“My four-year-old son has been in a French immersion pre-school for the last six months. Over the last couple months I have noticed my son walking around the house singing in French or just whispering to himself with the most accurate French pronunciation, it’s amazing to me!” said Ashley in Seattle. “I took two years of French in high school and I never had the accuracy of pronunciation my son has. And the ways the school has incorporated French culture through holiday celebrations and educational events has impacted our whole family and given us a deeper appreciation for the French culture and community.”
In April, MomsRising launched a new bilingual parenting resource site to help support bilingual families. More about this program can be found here.