News Release

NCLR Joins Education Leaders at Release of White House Policy Statement on Dual Language Learner Students

Brief cites improvements and ongoing efforts to support young dual language learners

June 2, 2016

Contact:
Camila Gallardo
cgallardo@nclr.org
(305) 215-4259

MIAMI —Today, as the White House, in partnership with Too Small To Fail and Invest In Us, released a policy statement on the progress and challenges for dual language learners (DLLs) in early childhood education programs, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) President and CEO Janet Murguía joined leaders at the United Way Center of Excellence in Early Education of Miami-Dade. Also in attendance were Roberto Rodríguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education; Dr. Blanca Enriquez, Director of the Office of Head Start; Kara Dukakis, Director of Too Small To Fail; Donna E. Shalala, President of the Clinton Foundation; and educators, parents, and community leaders.

“We applaud the administration’s new policy statement on young dual language learners. For too long, children’s home languages have been treated as a liability when in reality they can lead to better outcomes in the classroom while they are learning English,” said Murguía. “Bilingualism is an asset for our kids, one that will serve them well in an increasingly competitive and global job market where the need for foreign language skills will be considered a necessity.”

Latinos represent the fastest-growing segment of the nation’s student body population; by 2024, they will represent almost 33 percent of all students enrolled in U.S. schools and almost 80 percent of the DLL student population. There is a need to support students who have multilingual skills at an early age, which will prepare them to be successful in the global economic market and an increasingly diverse society. The administration’s policy statement points to current research that highlights the importance of children’s home language proficiency for their acquisition of English as well as their school success. The statement highlights that children do not benefit by minimizing or eliminating their involvement with their home language. In fact, the continued development of proficiency in the home language is viewed as key to supporting the school success of children who are DLLs.

NCLR has worked closely with its extensive network of nearly 300 Affiliate groups throughout the United States, policymakers, education leaders and community members to support high-quality early education programs and appropriate services for young DLLs. In addition to welcoming the administration’s statement, NCLR urged states to adopt programs and policies that include:

  • Developing statewide plans for DLLs with appropriate levels of resources.
  • Helping DLL children make the transition from early childhood education to kindergarten.
  • Expanding the availability and increasing the quality of K–12 dual immersion programs.
  • Engaging parents in the early learning process, including training that can help them be better partners in their children’s education.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.