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Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) introduced a revised version of the Biliteracy Education and Seal Teaching (BEST) Act. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate. The revised language included in this bill would establish, within the U.S. Department of Education, a program to support state and local implementation of Seal of Biliteracy programs. This new BEST Act would also require state grantees to provide subgrants to school districts so that they can launch, expand and scale local Seal of Biliteracy programs. This legislation also includes new language that requires states to ensure: equitable access to Seal programs for students with disabilities; the inclusion of American Sign Language as well as Native American languages in state Seal of Biliteracy programs; and outreach about Seal programs to elementary school and middle grade students, including heritage language learners and English learners.
“The revised BEST Act is a statement by its sponsors, Congresswoman Julia Brownley and Senator Brian Schatz, that multilingualism is an asset to be recognized for students and should be available equitably to all learners, especially English language learners and heritage learners,” said Amanda Seewald, Executive Director of the Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS). “This bill’s emphasis on implementing Seal of Biliteracy programs broadly in school districts across the nation will help students acquire the skills they need for college, career, and life, and uplift the languages that are central to identity for so many. JNCL-NCLIS has been honored to work on this legislation with such dedicated legislators and look forward to its passage.”