July in Review: A Broad Agenda For Languages Advances Through Congress...
As Congress breaks for the August recess, we, the language community, can reflect on a very
period on Capitol Hill in advancing
a broad agenda for languages in the United States.
As you'll see while reading this July update, your advocacy has had a direct impact on the advancements we're seen for languages in the United States. I thank each and every one of you for this.
Languages Matter to National Security, Economic Growth, and the Fulfillment of the Potential of All Americans
As I’ve said many times, the story we tell –of how
languages matter to national security, economic growth, and the fulfillment of the potential of all Americans
– resonates in Congress. Now, your actions and advocacy have propelled an unprecedented and comprehensive legislative package through the halls of Congress.
There’s genuine support in the Congress, on both sides of the aisle, for what we do –for what
do. Your hard work –in the classroom, in the community, as teachers, interpreters, translators, owners and leaders of language companies, as well as your advocacy in person here in DC, in your state capitols, and your support for policy alerts– matters. And
it’s making a difference
The 6 Language Bills That Could Become Law
At the moment,
there are six bipartisan bills
advancing through the 116th Congress,
all of which have a realistic chance of becoming law
. Moreover, they all respond to specific recommendations in
the report of the Commission on Language Learning of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences:
- The World Languages Advancement and Readiness Act, which was incorporated as an amendment into the House of Representatives’ version of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment passed the House unanimously. On July 29, Senator Cory Booker introduced the Senate version of WLARA in that chamber, and we are now working to secure support for the amendment. –Read more on WLARA;
- The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Program Reauthorization Act, which the Senate approved unanimously, is now in the House of Representatives, Committee on Education and Labor. JNCL-NCLIS is part of a broad coalition working to secure more co-sponsors for this bill, in order to bring it to the floor of the House; –Read more on Esther;
- The Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching Act (BEST Act), which has been introduced in the House by Representative Julia Brownley. We are working with several Senate offices on a Senate version; –Read more on the BEST Act;
- The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Act, which was introduced by Mr. Simon’s close-colleague and friend, Senator Dick Durbin (IL), is in Senate HELP committee. JNCL-NCLIS is part of a broad coalition of advocates asking that more be done to advance the America’s Languages recommendation to increase the amount of students studying abroad each year. –Read more on the Paul Simon Act;
- The Reaching America’s English Learners Act has been introduced in both the House (Rep. Langevin) and the Senate (Sen. Cortez-Masto) to ameliorate the teacher shortage and preparing future-educators with the necessary tools to guide classrooms of multilingual and multicultural children. –Read more on RELA;
- The Defense Language Improvement Act, as with WLARA, was incorporated as an amendment to the House version of the NDAA. Today’s service members in uniform need to be equipped with the necessary tools to maintain positive relations and foresee potential situations at home and abroad. This bill expands the educational opportunities for service members who graduate from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), one of the premier foreign language institutions in the nation, by offering students a BA in world language study. –Read more on DLI.
Language Access for All is a Matter of
On the regulatory front,
the Trump administration continues to chip away at language access for all
. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, multiple Supreme Court decisions in the past 50 years, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and other laws and regulations guarantee that if you don’t speak English you are provided language services when accessing federally funded programs, be they judicial, health, social services, and so forth.
Language access for all is a matter of fundamental social justice
, and is also one of the factors
driving the growth of the language industry
in this country.
proposed for section 1557 of the PPACA
would limit language access
, making it harder for patients to communicate with their doctors and understand the ins-and-outs of the medical and insurance industry.
Joint National Committee for Languages News: New Website & New Hire!
Another bit of good and exciting news:
the new JNCL-NCLIS website is here!
We hope that you have a chance to explore it and
send us your feedback
. This was a year-long, in-house effort, led by our Managing Director,
Mr. Trey Calvin
. It’s a significant improvement over the old site, and Trey deserves kudos for executing this complex task
Finally, JNCL-NCLIS would like to officially welcome
Ms. Alissa Rutkowski
, our new Communications and Policy Associate, to our growing policy team! Many of you met Alissa when she was interning with us during Language Advocacy Day. Please join me in welcoming Alissa to the team.
As always, stay in touch, send us your ideas, your concerns, and your stories.