Advocay Letter Writing Campaign 2021

Letter of advocacy for Seal of Biliteracy, World Language Advancement and Readiness Act (WLARA) and the Biliteracy Educational Seal and Teaching Act (BEST)

PSMLA needs your help to advocate for world language programs that establish, improve and expand world language teaching. Please take 5 minutes to email the following form letter to our state representatives and senators to advocate for PA world language programs that will improve the linguistic skills, cultural knowledge and diversity awareness of current and future students in the state.

Emails of PA representatives and senators which you can copy and paste: cindy_matosbeltre@casey.senate.gov; Tess_skehan@toomey.senate.gov; senatorkristin@pasen.gov; chris.fernandez@mail.house.gov; jonathan.mack@mail.house.gov; megan.ruane@mail.house.gov; Kayla.Primes@mail.house.gov; kate.werley@mail.house.gov; parker.bennett@mail.house.gov

 

Date __________

Dear Pennsylvania representatives and senators,

My name is __________, and I am a __________ teacher at  __________ School District in __________ County, PA. The reason that I am writing is to ask for your support of world language programs which will create more bilingual students who will be an asset economically, socially and culturally. Currently, only 1/5 of the population in the U.S. speaks a language other than English. In all of the states, and especially in Pennsylvania, there are not enough bilingual workers to fill positions in construction, industry, agriculture, medicine, education, banking, business, tourism, the judicial system, law enforcement, the military, etc. and this is hurting our economy and limiting our ability to communicate with those who speak a language other than English. For this reason, I am asking that you support the BEST Act and WLARA (World Language Advancement and Readiness Act).

In 2020, authorization and funding for $15 million was granted through the Department of Defense for the World Language Advancement and Readiness Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/2307/committees?q=%7B%22 search%22%3A%5B%22s.+2307%22%5D%7D&r=1&s=1). This money provides 3 year competitive grants to support local and state education agencies to establish, improve or expand innovative programs in world language teaching with special consideration for intensive summer programs for professional development for world language teachers. These funds are for school districts with JROTC programs, but any student in that district may participate. Priority for the grant is given to programs with STEM, distance learning, underrepresented populations, and evidence-based program models. It is hoped that another $15 million will be approved for the 2022 fiscal year.

The BEST (Biliteracy Educational Seal and Teaching) Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2986) would provide federal funding for equitable implementation of programs to allow every student the opportunity to achieve a Seal of Biliteracy which recognizes students who are proficient in English and a second language. Currently, there are 40 US states that offer the Seal of Biliteracy, but there are still many schools in those states that don’t offer the Seal to their students due to a lack of funds. To offer the Seal of Biliteracy in schools, there needs to be federal funding so that ALL high school students who are possible candidates have the opportunity to take a proficiency test to demonstrate their ability and to serve as proof of their language skills. The BEST Act would also provide funding to establish and implement Seal of Biliteracy programs in states like PA, which hasn’t yet passed the Seal of Biliteracy at the state level. Currently, PA has over 700,000 people who speak a language other than English in their home with over 200 different languages being spoken in the state. In our schools in PA, there are over 61,000 English Learners (ELs). We need to give these students the opportunity to learn English by providing programs to set them up for success. They would also be a great asset to our economy and fill many job positions that are looking for bilingual workers.

The BEST Act and the World Language Achievement and Readiness Act (WLARA) will strengthen our economy, support our national security, increase the value of bilingual high school students, motivate students to become proficient in a 2nd language and help to maintain the heritage of the EL students who speak a language other than English in their homes. I am asking that you support both world language acts and also support the Seal of Biliteracy (https://sealofbiliteracy.org/) at the state level since our students in PA deserve the chance to be recognized for their bilingual ability and to have proof of their skills.

Sincerely,

__________, teacher

__________, School District

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