Louisiana Debates Bilingual Education as a Right

Lawmakers in Louisiana are pushing to make language immersion a right.

“Every kid should have the right of a bilingual education,” said Rep. Stephen Ortego (D) of Carenco. “It’s not fair it’s the luck of the draw if you get in. We would be the first to make bilingual education a right.”

House Bill 763 is identical to Senate Bill 558, introduced by Sen. Eric LeFleur (D) of Ville Platt. This legislation would obligate schools to open an immersion program if at least 25 students requested one. Currently, over 700 Louisiana students are currently on wait-lists. The entire Arcadiana Legislative Delegation, a total of 46 members, supports the bills.

Ortego explained that the bill will focus mostly on expanding preschool and kindergarten immersion. Currently, 5,000 students are in French immersion programs, while 1,000 are in Spanish.

Another bill, HB1016 by Rep. Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette, would create a state Seal of Biliteracy to be affixed on the high school diplomas or transcripts of students who graduate with a bilingual education. That measure is scheduled for debate in the House.

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