LOS ANGELES (June 11, 2014) - In many countries, adults and children routinely speak, read and write two or more languages. Not in the U.S., where some students who are learning English as a second language, lose fluency in their first language and most English-speaking students never become proficient in a second language. To encourage greater bilingualism, the Los Angeles Board of Education approved a resolution on Tuesday that would provide recognition and incentives for districts but without mandates.
Board Vice President Steve Zimmer, who is fluent in English and Spanish, sponsored the resolution. “Research confirms the cognitive social and economic advantages of bilingualism,” he said. In addition, he emphasized the advantages for students who graduate from LAUSD bilingual and biliterate. The resolution was co-sponsored by Board Members Bennett Kayser and Mónica Ratliff, who is also bilingual.
L.A. Unified has long been a leader in developing dual language programs that provide opportunities for students to achieve academic proficiency in two or more languages. Currently, the District offers 54 programs. At the elementary level, dual language instruction is offered in Spanish/English, Korean/English and Mandarin/English. At the secondary level, which includes middle and high school, 10 programs are offered in Spanish/English, Korean/English and Mandarin/English. Because of increasingly popularity with parents and students, there are not enough seats for all who are interested in the specialized instruction.
The District also offers transitional and maintenance bilingual programs that help students, for whom English is a second language, achieve academic proficiency in Spanish or Korean.
In this area, the District has clearly made significant progress. More classes are needed. Toward that goal, the resolution endorses AB 2203 authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom. The legislation would provide direction and distinction to school districts that develop multiple instructional pathways to ensure the largest number of students have access to the benefits provided by bilingualism and bilieracy.
###Contact: Tom Waldman (213) 241-6766