Summer: Time to Celebrate, Time to Advocate

By the time you read this, schools will be letting out all over America. For us, that means scrambling to keep two kids busy while Mama and Baba work. As for my work, I know that I am lucky and privileged. However grim our parlors times appear, we are fighting for the right.

Advocating for America’s Languages, and for biliteracy and bilingualism for all America’s children, continues to be an astonishing and exciting journey.

At the end of this month, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese celebrates its 100th year, with a very special annual conference in Salamanca. AATS y P is kindly bringing yours truly over, to talk to American teachers of Spanish and Portuguese about the Working Group on Languages of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Centenary meeting of AATSP will bring together world language and dual language teachers, as well as the Spanish Association for Bilingual Education. Part of our celebration,

and equally importantly, part of the effort of the Working Group, is noting, promoting, catalyzing, and assisting the amazing expansion of the Seal of Biliteracy in the US – at this writing, at least 45 states and D.C. have adopted the Seal, or are working on doing so. That’s worth celebrating.

It means that state legislatures, state boards of education, and diverse educator associations at the state level now promote bilingualism and biliteracy, for all students. This gives us reason to be optimistic about America’s languages, and about what they signify – the cultural and ethnic diversity of our country. At least as far as biliteracy goes, we are moving to a better place.

Continue reading to find out more about Bill River’s summer advice…

On the other hand, we face advocacy challenges great and small everywhere we turn. Last month, I wrote about the Department of Education’s efforts to eliminate the Office of English Language Acquisition. Since then, a coalition of organizations wrote to Secretary DeVos, politely pointing out why we think this is a really bad idea – it contravenes Federal Law and Lau v. Nichols, and it would lead to worse services for English Learners. While we’re proud to take part in this effort, I’d rather we didn’t need to. This is the place where we need your help: call or write your congressperson and Senators, telling them to keep OELA intact.

Your voices matter, more than you might know, and now is the time to raise them!

Bill Rivers
Author: Bill Rivers

Dr. Bill Rivers has more than 25 years of leadership experience in culture and language for economic development and national security, with expertise in the private, public, and non-profits sectors, in research, assessment, program evaluation, policy development and advocacy. Before joining JNCL-NCLIS, he served as Chief Scientist at Integrated Training Solutions, Inc., a small business in Arlington, Virginia. While at ITS, he served in a contractor role as the Chief Linguist of the National Language Service Corps. Prior to working at ITS, he was co-founder of the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland.

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