Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law designed to strengthen bilingual education in Illinois. The law authorizes the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education to study and make recommendations on the state of bilingual education in Illinois, as well as the role of parents of students whose first language is not English.
Sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) and Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), House Bill 3819 requires the Advisory Council to evaluate the success rate of bilingual programs, examine innovative initiatives such as “parent academies” and “cultural competency programs”, and submit a report to the State Superintendent of Education, Governor and General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2013.
According to an Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) study, there were 183,000 Illinois students in 2010 for whom English was not a first language, nearly 10 percent of the entire student population. Spanish-speakers comprise 80 percent of those enrolled in English language programs; rounding out the top ten are Polish, Urdu, Arabic, Tagalog, Korean, Cantonese/Mandarin, Gujarati, Vietnamese and Russian.
The bill was supported by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and passed unanimously in both chambers. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.