Board Declares Support for ‘Biliteracy for All’

LOS ANGELES - Recognizing the link between bilingual proficiency and student achievement, the Board of Education today set the goal of attaining biliteracy for all students, and called for the Class of 2032 to be the first to graduate with all members able to read and write in a world language.

Approved unanimously by the board, “Establishing a Commitment to Biliteracy for All,” supports the expansion of dual-language programs, which the District already offers in Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Armenian and French.

“The decision the Board of Education made today to sign on to the essential goal of ensuring Biliteracy for All is a game changer for this District,” said School Board President Steve Zimmer, the lead sponsor of the resolution.

“Now that the voters in California have affirmed the importance of bilingualism, it’s our turn to do everything we need to do to bring this benefit to all our students. We know that valuing language is more than words. It is about valuing our students’ history, their families and their communities.

“Biliteracy must now unequivocally be who we are as a school district and a school family for every child in every school, and in every community,” he said. 

L.A. Unified is already working to implement voter-approved Proposition 58, which grants school districts greater flexibility in educating English-learners while offering new opportunities for native English-speakers to learn a second language. Nearly 60 percent of L.A. Unified students speak a language other than English in their homes.

The resolution directs the superintendent to convene an advisory board that would build on those efforts while studying the resources, training and partnerships that would be needed to make biliteracy for all a reality. That board will include educators, business leaders, biliteracy advocates, parents and labor partners.

“Research shows that students who speak more than one language have many advantages, in school and in life,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez, who co-sponsored the resolution. “As such, biliteracy is a gift that we can give to our students that helps them develop a better sense of themselves, their community and their future.” 

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766