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Support the World Languages Advancement Act (WLAA)

Senator Tammy Baldwin recently introduced the World Languages Advancement Act (WLAA), an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. We ask that your office support the amendment, which retains a vitally important, cost-effective program to ensure access to high-quality world language programming in America's schools. The ECAA does not provide for world language programming, depriving the Federal Government of its programmatic ability to signal the importance of world languages to SEAs and LEAs.

American youth deserve to be globally competitive. Knowledge of another language, in addition to English, confers a wide range of benefits on the individual:

  • improved literacy in English, as evidenced by achievement test scores;
  • a greater likelihood of attending and finishing college, across all groups but especially for ELLs and lower SES groups;
  • higher lifelong earnings;
  • lifetime cognitive benefits, such as delaying the onset of symptoms of dementia.

At the national level, languages continue to be vital to our national security and economic growth. The US language industry provides professional, knowledge-based work for more than 200,000 translators, interpreters, teachers, researchers, and other experts, returning more than $15b to the US economy and growing at 6%-8% per year. A recent employment trends survey by Michigan State University showed that 11% of US companies have jobs open which require world language skills, and half of US companies give an employment advantage to those with such skills, even if the job doesn't require knowledge of a language.

The WLAA updates a competitive grant program in USED, with a 1:1 matching requirement, which provides 3 years of seed corn for LEAs and SEAs to implement and evaluate high-quality language programs. From 1991 to 2011, the predecessor to WLAA enabled LEAs in places as diverse as Anchorage, Yazoo City, Tulsa, Cincinnati, and Missoula to create sustainable programs in dozens of world languages.

Please support this amendment. Questions may be directed to Mr. Michael DiNapoli, in Senator Baldwin's office, at Michael.DiNapoli@Baldwin.senate.gov.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015