This week, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that authorizes the Biliteracy Education and Seal Teaching (BEST) Act – HR 1731 – which would provide support for states to establish, improve and implement Seal of Biliteracy programs across the country.
This bill directs the Department of Education to award renewable two-year grants to states to establish or improve, and carry out, Seal of Biliteracy programs to recognize student proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in both English and a second language.
Further, these programs must allow speakers of any official Native American language to use equivalent proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in such language in lieu of proficiency in English.
Seal of Biliteracy programs have already been adopted in 49 states and thousands of students have earned seals on their diplomas or transcripts denoting their proficiency in one world language in addition to English. To support this progress, JNCL-NCLIS has worked closely with Representative Brownley (D-CA) to ensure the BEST Act provides appropriate support for the resources needed to implement and expand these programs and provide equitable opportunities for all students to earn their seals. The Senate will take up this annual defense authorization bill in September.
The bill has been applauded by the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS). The JNCL-NCLIS unites a national network of leading organizations and businesses comprised of over 300,000 language professionals to advocate for equitable language learning opportunities. Our mission is to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language. “We urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead and support inclusion of the BEST Act in its version of the FY23 NDAA,” said JNCL-NCLIS President, Amanda Seewald.