This month America’s Languages Caucus Co-Chair, Representative Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), plans to introduce the World Language Education Assistance Program (LEAP).
The bill would ensure a multi-year grant program within the U.S. Department of Education which would allow school districts to establish, improve, and carry out projects that enrich and expand world language, or dual language programs.
The Joint National Committee for Languages – National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) has been working closely with Representative Panetta and other Congressional supporters to create the bill.
“World language education needs our support now more than ever, given recent cuts to university language programs and a few state efforts to end language immersion programs,” said Rep Panetta.
The preliminary bill outlines significant structural changes within language education funding and highlights these criteria, moving forward:
- Require a significant reservation of funds for Professional Development activities that are sustained, intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused.
- Support accessible pathways for paraprofessionals to gain full educator certification and licensure as world language or dual language educators.
- Prioritize grants to programs that:
- (1) Include intensive summer world language programs for PD;
- (2) Link with community-based heritage language schools and communities;
- (3) Provide equitable availability of world language and dual language immersion
programs across all socio-economic and demographic groups, including heritage language learners and English learners;
- (4) Includes LEAs and institutions of higher education; and
- (5) Collaborating with the state licensure office to broaden pathways for language or dual language teacher certification in order to diversify and expand opportunities in the
Amanda Seewald, Executive Director of JNCL-NCLIS said “Developing this legislation with Congressman Panetta’s office has been an honor,” , adding “We are thrilled to see the World Language Education Assistance Program (World LEAP) Act introduced to nationalize the crucial discussion of language education as an essential facet of K-12 learning in the United States.
The World LEAP Act will establish the first K-12 world language and dual language education grants program at the U.S. Department of Education in over 14 years. This important legislation prioritizes funding for the development of programs offered across all socio-economic and demographic groups, builds opportunity for heritage and English language learners, requires a reservation of funds for professional development, and promotes career pathways that will generate economic success for our nation. JNCL-NCLIS proudly endorses the World LEAP Act and is grateful to Congressman Panetta for his leadership.”