Illinois law strengthens bilingual education - – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois law strengthens bilingual education


A new law signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Thursday hopes to strengthen bilingual education in the state through study and parent academies.

House Bill 3819 will require the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education to review the success rate of bilingual programs, examine initiatives like parent academies and cultural competency programs, and give a report on their findings to the State Superintendent of Education, Governor, and General Assembly by the first of the year.

In 2010 there were 183,000 students (almost ten percent of the student population) in Illinois for whom English was not a first language. Eighty percent of students enrolled in English language programs spoke Spanish, with Polish, Urdu, Arabic, Tagalog, Korean, Cantonese/Mandarin, Gujarati, Vietnamese, and Russian rounding out the top ten.

The Advisory Council will discuss the possibility of parent academies to teach parents about standardized testing, homework strategies, and student-teacher relationships. Similar programs have been successful in other states.

"Parents of non-English speaking students want—and need—to feel a greater stake in navigating their child's education," Representative Chapa LaVia, Chairperson for the Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Committee, said. "This new law opens the door to such innovations as 'parent academies' to accomplish that."

The bill passed both chambers unanimously and will take effect on January 1.

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