By Vickie Ramos Harris, Associate Director of Education Policy, Education Equity
On Tuesday, April 18, the Los Angeles Unified School Board passed the resolution, Preparing LAUSD Students for the Global Economy: Building A Dual Language Immersion Pilot In Early Childhood Education (Rodriguez, Ratliff, García). This resolution creates a plan to pilot Dual Immersion programs in Early Childhood Education (ECE) in the 2017-18 school year. The pilot will inform efforts for the potential expansion of ECE Dual Immersion programs throughout LAUSD, ensure that ECE was a part of Proposition 58 implementation, and serve as an important model for California districts to maximize children’s innate ability to learn multiple languages in the earliest years
Public testimony in support of the resolution was offered by Advancement Project California, Los Angeles Preschool Advocacy Initiative, Los Angeles Universal Preschool, United Teachers of Los Angeles, and former Board Member David Tokofsky. The resolution was well-received by the board, calling on Superintendent King to ensure each Board District was engaged in the pilot, and that the planning and implementation of the pilot provide opportunities for as many students as possible.
This resolution stemmed from the leadership of Board Member Rodriguez, who first facilitated a policy discussion on early education and dual language learners (DLLs) at the January 24, 2017 Early Childhood Education and Parent Engagement Committee. A policy brief, Preparing LAUSD Students for the Global Economy: Maximizing the Assets of Dual Language Learners in the Early Years, was released by Advancement Project for this committee, offering an overview of the policy and research, as well as recommendations for LAUSD.
Research has shown that young children are capable of successfully learning multiple languages, that the brain is most receptive to language learning in the earliest years of life, and that home language is central to socio-emotional development and overall academic achievement. Studies have demonstrated that English Learners (ELs) in Dual Language programs have higher rates of reclassification, English proficiency, and academic success by the end of high school. Moreover, research shows native English speakers, African American students, students of low socioeconomic status, and English Learners in dual language programs outperform their monolingual peers and can help to close the achievement gap.
California is home to the largest population of English Learners in the country. LAUSD serves the largest number of ELs in California, and 50 percent of children in LAUSD’s ECE programs are Dual Language Learners.
LAUSD is therefore in a unique and important position to help drive and define quality for early childhood education and Dual Language Learners, and the district can help lead innovative opportunities to build bilingualism and biliteracy, beginning with ECE. This potential impact of LAUSD’s leadership can benefit students across California and nationally, and it should be supported to help achieve the vision the Board of Education has set forth with this resolution.
See KPCC’s coverage of LAUSD’s ECE Dual Language pilot: LAUSD to pilot an expanded dual-language preschool program.
For more information on the research and science behind Dual Language Learner education, please see the report recently released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), Promising the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures. Also, on May 22, Advancement Project will host an Early Care and Education Water Cooler convening to explore how the new NASEM research on Dual Language Learners impacts ECE in California, and how we can bring the critical lens of ECE and DLLs to California’s State Education Plan. Click here to register.