My remarks to the Washington Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee on Dual Language Programs
*** Want more information on raising multilingual children? Visit MomsRising's bilingual parenting resource site: http://action.momsrising.org/survey/bilingual_baby/?source=blog
Good afternoon Chair Zeiger and members of the Committee. My name is Casey Osborn-Hinman and I am a Campaign Director with MomsRising, a grassroots organization with 40,000 members in Washington State.
We are here today in strong support of SB 5529.
MomsRising is appreciative of the commitment Washington state has made to expanding the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program because of its profound benefits for children, families, communities, and our economy. As we continue to expand ECEAP, we have the opportunity to leverage our investments even more by increasing access to dual language learning in ECEAP classrooms.
With dual language learner populations growing every day and with anti-immigrant sentiment at an all-time high, it is critical that we create more equitable early learning settings that meet the unique needs of Washington’s linguistically diverse community.
Research tells us this is also crucial to closing the opportunity gap.
In fact, dual language programs are the best way to increase student achievement for English Language Learners while also improving educational outcomes for native English speaking students. This has been the experience for Hannah, a MomsRising member from the Seattle-area who could not be here because she is at work. Here is Rachel's story:
“My husband and I are both public school teachers who have taught in Portland, Oregon, New York City and Seattle. We are both bilingual in English and Spanish and taught for six years in dual language immersion programs. We are a bilingual, bicultural family and Spanish is extremely important to us, as my husband's family is Dominican. In Seattle, the options for Spanish immersion or Dual Language programs in public school are very limited, and the quality of the programs is highly variable. We are very committed, passionate public school teachers, but because Spanish language and literacy is of such importance to us, we have decided to send our two children to an independent Spanish immersion elementary school in Seattle. We are advocating for the passing of this bill to strengthen dual language programs so that bicultural, bilingual children such as ours, Joaquín and Belén, can attend high-quality programs in public schools!"
Promoting the learning and development of young children who are dual language learners begins by creating a climate that builds on their strengths, recognizes the benefits of bilingualism, embraces diversity, and recognizes the importance of fostering connections with families as children’s first and most important teachers. That’s exactly what SB 5529 would do for more of Washington’s children.
On behalf of Hannah and MomsRising’s 40,000 members in Washington state, I urge your support of SB 5529.
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