Editorial & Opinion

It’s time to pass the World Language and Dual Language Immersion Act

Over the past three years, the World Language and Dual Language Immersion Act has easily passed the Senate chamber driven by the leadership of Senator Ciccone. Yet, despite the best efforts of Representative Diaz and others, the bill has continuously stalled in the House. Now more than ever we need to prioritize evidence-based educational models that will support our multilingual learners, especially our linguistically diverse communities in Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket.
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Published on June 1, 2021
By Erin Papa and Chris Sanacore

Over the past year, Rhode Island has made significant gains in supporting multilingual learners and multilingual education across the state. From RIDE’s Blueprint to Multilingual Learner Success to the Rhode Island Foundation’s investment in dual language and bilingual programs and state legislation that can secure more funding for English language learners, there finally seems to be concerted momentum to expand high quality multilingual and language programs for Rhode Island students. 

For the past two years, the Coalition for a Multilingual RI (CMLRI) has built grassroots energy to underscore the importance of multilingual education programs from elementary to post-secondary education. Our group, made up of parents, community members, and students from K-12, higher education, and nonprofits, has held annual Multilingual Education Advocacy Days at the state house and held information sessions on multilingual programs for parents in collaboration with Parents Leading for Educational Equity, the Latino Policy Institute and Providence Promise.

We have relentlessly advocated to the general assembly for critical legislation that would support the expansion of dual language and bilingual education in Rhode Island and it’s time that the general assembly finally passed our World Language and Dual Language Immersion Act (H5239). This bill would create a dual language program fund and a world language and dual language immersion specialist at RIDE. The position will develop pathways to bilingualism and biliteracy for Rhode Island students and support districts to spearhead multilingual educational models. This drop in the bucket investment will help implement RIDE’s Blueprint to Multilingual Success and lay the groundwork to close the achievement gap that currently exists for multilingual learners in Rhode Island. 

Over the past three years, the World Language and Dual Language Immersion Act has easily passed the Senate chamber driven by the leadership of Senator Frank Ciccone. Yet, despite the best efforts of Representative Grace Diaz and others, the bill has continuously stalled in the House. Now more than ever we need to prioritize evidence-based educational models that will support our multilingual learners, especially our linguistically diverse communities in Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket. 

We’re calling on educators, students, families and social justice advocates to let House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi and House Majority Leader Chris Blazejewski know that it’s time to pass the World Language and Dual Language Immersion Act. Please take five minutes to join our letter writing campaign so we can finally pass this important legislation


About the Coalition for a Multilingual RI

We are a coalition of organizations and community members dedicated to creating a culturally sustaining educational environment where all Rhode Island students learn in multiple languages from Pre-K to college. Learn more here at www.multilingualri.org 

2021 Multilingual Education Advocacy Day (Top left to the right, CMLRI Director Erin Papa, ASL Interpreter John Henry-Heywood, Representative David Morales; Bottom left to right Representative Grace Diaz, Senator Sandra Cano, Senator Samuel Bell)

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