This week the Michigan World Language Association received word that that two new bills have been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives that effect our students and the state of world language education in Michigan. It is urgent that you contact your representative this week and voice your opinion on these bills.
We are providing you with information on these bills, a sample letter you can use to write/email your representative, as well as some talking points for you to personalize your letters.
What are the proposals?
HB 4102 eliminates the World Language other than English Requirement from the MMC and eliminates ASL as a world language.
HB 4072 proposes to remove world language from the MMC requirements and proposes that a district IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO OFFER TO EACH PUPIL during grades K to 12 course work or other learning experiences that are substantially equivalent to 2 credits in a language other than English.(HB 4072, p.4).
When is the deadline?
These bills are currently going before the House Committee on Education where, without OUR efforts, could very well move forward out of committee and to the house floor. This could happen as early as late this week.
What can I do?
We are urging you, our members, to CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE THIS WEEK as well as the members of the House Committee on Education to voice your opinion about the proposed legislation. Their information is below and can also be found through www.capwiz.com.
The Executive Board of the Michigan World Language Association
- World competitiveness requires understanding other languages and other cultures. Every year American students graduate high school without the necessary language and cultural training to meet the demands of an increasingly interconnected world. The lack of linguistically proficient and culturally competent students poses a threat to our national security, economic prosperity, and social well-being.
- In March, the Council on Foreign Relations published a report authored by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein that found, “The lack of language skills and civic and global awareness among American citizens increasingly jeopardizes their ability to interact with local and global peers or participate meaningfully in business, diplomatic, and military situations. The United States is not producing enough foreign-language speakers to staff important posts in the U.S. Foreign Service, the intelligence community, and American companies.”
- Despite critical security and economic needs, we have failed to adequately support language programs that start in the early grades and create a continuity of best-in-class language instruction through college.
- As Michelle Obama said at the launch of the “100,000 Strong” Initiative, “Getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about the skills you bring from the classroom. It’s also about the experience you have with the world beyond our borders -- with people, and languages, and cultures that are very different from our own.”2 The security and future of our country depend on accurately understanding other cultures through their linguistic and cultural practices.
- Language learning leads to greater understanding of different cultures
- Increasing language proficiency opens more opportunities in secondary and post secondary study
- Language study enhances problem-solving and critical thinking skills
- The skills required in learning a language transfer to other academic subjects and improved performance in those subjects
- Developing proficiency in other languages broadens career options
- Skills in languages other than English make those not bound for postsecondary study more attractive employment candidates in a wide range of careers where communicating with diverse customers is necessary
- Good language achievement enhances a student’s college prospects and opens paths for a wider range of college-level fields of study
- Solid language programs make the community and its schools more attractive to potential residents and employers
- These programs contribute to a more diverse population and enhance the cultural experiences of all citizens
- Offering language programs addresses the concerns and demands of parents in the community
- Encouraging language learning helps develop a more valuable employment pool with contemporary skills
- Acquisition of language skills increases business opportunities with minority groups within the community
- Broader language skills help to improve the community by minimizing language barriers and building cross-cultural understanding
Dear Representative [INSERT representative’s name],
I would like to address proposed legislation (HB 4102 and HB 4072) currently under discussion in the House to eliminate world language graduation requirement from the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC).
I strongly oppose HB 4102 and HB 4072. I support the world language requirement as part of the MMC and believe it is in the best interest of students, communities and the nation to have a citizenry that is linguistically competent in more than one language and understands other cultures. If you want Michigan students to be “job ready” in this global economy, then do not handicap them by eliminating the world language requirement.
[INSERT reasons from the talking points]
SAMPLE: Every year American students graduate high school without the necessary language and cultural training to meet the demands of an increasingly interconnected world. The lack of linguistically proficient and culturally competent students poses a threat to our national security, economic prosperity, and social well-being.
The Council on Foreign Relations published a report authored by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein that found, “The lack of language skills and civic and global awareness among American citizens increasingly jeopardizes their ability to interact with local and global peers or participate meaningfully in business, diplomatic, and military situations. The United States is not producing enough foreign-language speakers to staff important posts in the U.S. Foreign Service, the intelligence community, and American companies.”
[INSERT A PERSONAL STORY ABOUT THE NEED FOR LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY]
SAMPLE: As a person who has traveled extensively and has lived out of the USA, I have seen first-hand students in China, Japan, South America, Central America, Mexico and Europe who learn multiple languages to prepare themselves for jobs in an international economy. They know that if they want to options for their future, they need to be prepared to compete with others from around the world. I watch and wonder where Michigan students will fit into this global economy if they are not competitive with their international peers.
In Michigan, we want our children to have options to follow their dreams of leading a quality, rich and fulfilling life. Please give Michigan students the quality world-class education they need to succeed. Other countries do. Why not Michigan? Support World Language as a graduation requirement. Oppose HB 4102 and HB 4072!