Sealed with un Beso

He was rich, persuasive — and wrong. But Ron Unz succeeded in leading our most populous state down a dark path in the history of language education. Fortunately, his very success planted the seeds of change that are yielding a harvest of good in the nation today. Hear the origin story of the Seal of Biliteracy, which began in California and is now transforming America.

Something new in America: honoring bilingualism

The Seal of Biliteracy is a seal that high school seniors can earn on their diplomas and transcripts after demonstrating written and oral proficiency in English plus another language. In the five years since its creation in California, the Seal of Biliteracy has been adopted by a majority of US states.

The organization behind the innovation is Californians Together. Says Executive Director Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, “This is a not-very-labor-intensive reform movement that has captured the imagination and spread in a way that other education reform initiatives have not.”

America the Bilingual is a storytelling podcast for people who think bilingualism is good for themselves, for their families, and for their country.

Hear the Story: Listen on iTunes by clicking here: America the Bilingual by Steve Leveen on iTunes or on SoundCloud here. I’ll let you know about future episodes on Twitter as well.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

— Margaret Mead

C-Suite staff from Seal of Biliteracy and Californians Together
Jan Gustafson Corea, CEO, CABE, Arthur Chou, Managing Director, Seal of Biliteracy, Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director, Californians Together
 C-Suite staff smiling for the camera
Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, Executive Director, Californians Together, Arthur Chou, Managing Director, Seal of Biliteracy, Laurie Olsen, Treasurer, Californians Together

Credits

Many scholars and language teachers consented to my requests for interviews and helped me understand the history of bilingual and world language education in America. (Mistakes in interpretation are, of course, mine.) At Harvard, I thank María-Luisa Parra and Adriana Gutierrez. At Stanford, I thank Russell Berman, Elizabeth Bernhardt, Albert Camarillo, Kenji Hakuta, Sean Readon, Kenneth Romeo, Jonathan Rosa and Guadalupe Valdéz. At Vassar College I thank Eva Maria Woods Peiro and Jeff Schneider. Books quoted in the episode are “Why Don’t They Learn English?”: Separating Face from Fallacy in the U.S. Language Debate by Lucy Tse and Advocating for English Learners: Selected Essays by James Crawford.

Special thanks to Samantha Greene, Communications Director for Congresswoman Julia Brownley.

The America the Bilingual podcast is part of the Lead with Languages campaign of ACTFL — The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

This episode was written by me, Steve Leveen, our producer Fernando Hernández, who also does our sound design and mixing, and our associate producer, Beckie Rankin. Our brand and editorial director is Mim Harrison. Graphic arts are created by Carlos Plaza Design Studio.

Julia Brownley — from school board to U.S. Congress

U.S. Congresswoman Julia Brownley was early in her public career, serving on a school district board when California Prop. 227 was voted into law in 1998. “I have been fighting this issue, quite frankly, ever since.”

ting this issue, quite frankly, ever since.”

 
 Julia Brownley is the author of the BEST Act, which would provide federal funds to encourage state seals of biliteracy.

Music in this episode with a Creative Commons Attribution License by: Kevin Macleod — Quasi Motion, Francisco Penilla — Chicle Bombita, Lee Rosevere — More on That LaterSad Marimba PlanetKeeping Stuff TogetherNew Day, Komiku — Action Discovery, and Jorge Mario Zuleta — IntroTemporal

 

Group of Biliteracy Seal Recipients wearing medals

Orange County School of the Arts Seal of Biliteracy Students, Class of 2017 (Group 2 of 3)

The battle for the seal continues in Massachusetts

Advocates for The Seal of Biliteracy in Massachusetts continue to pilot programs in school districts while the legislation winds its way through the statehouse. Says Kim Talbot, Director of Global Education at Melrose Public Schools, “We’re from Massachusetts, we’re supposed to be revolutionaries!”

 Three women standing in front of a red Mazda 5
America the Bilingual associate producer, Beckie Rankin, of Lexington Public Schools, Nicole Sherf, Professor at Salem State University, and Kim Talbot of Melrose Public Schools. The bumper sticker on Nicole’s car reads “Monolingualism is the illiteracy of the 21st century.”

He was rich, persuasive–and wrong. But Ron Unz succeeded in leading our most populous state down a dark path in the history of world language education. Yet his very success planted the seeds of change that are yielding a harvest of good in the nation today. Hear the origin story of the Seal of Biliteracy, which began in California and is now transforming America.

America the Bilingual is part of the Lead with Languages campaign of ACTFL — The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
This episode was written by me, Steve Leveen, our producer Fernando Hernández (who also does our sound design and mixing) and our associate producer, Beckie Rankin. Our brand and editorial director is Mim Harrison. Editorial consultant is Maja Thomas. Graphic arts are created by Carlos Plaza Design Studio.

Music in this episode with a Creative Commons Attribution License by (In order of appearance):

Jorge Mario Zuleta – Intro
freemusicarchive.org/music/Jorge_Ma…tte/Intro_1982

Komiky – Action Discovery
freemusicarchive.org/music/Komiku/T…tion_Discovery

Kevin MacLeod – Quasi Motion
freemusicarchive.org/music/Kevin_Ma…r/Quasi_Motion

Lee Rosevere – More on that later
freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rose…_On_That_Later

Lee Rosevere – Sad marimba planet
freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rose…Marimba_Planet

Jorge Mario Zuleta – Temporal
freemusicarchive.org/music/Jorge_Ma…xette/Temporal

Francisco Penilla – Chicle bombita
Francisco-penilla – Francisco-penilla-chicle-bombita

Lee Rosevere – Keeping stuff together
freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rose…Stuff_Together

Lee Rosevere – New day
freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rose…4_-_04_New_Day

2017-12-11T16:39:09-04:00

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