Washington Celebrates New Law Promoting Bilingual Education


June 16, 2014


Portrait of Washington State Senator Pam Roach
Washington State Senator Pam Roach

In honor of Washington state’s new Seal of Biliteracy law, a group of educators, lawmakers, and other stakeholders who are dedicated to the academic success of English learners gathered at the Kent School District office on June 9.

The law recognizes high school graduates who are proficient in English and another language by attaching a gold seal to a student’s diploma. Similar laws have passed in six other states.

The celebration event highlighted the benefits of bilingualism in a global economy and was sponsored by State Sen. Joe Fain, Rep. Pat Sullivan, Education Northwest, OneAmerica, and the Roadmap Project’s English language learners (ELL) work group. The day’s agenda included an introduction to innovative models from Highline and Kent school districts and a tour of a dual language classroom at Scenic Hill Elementary.

Governor Jay Inslee signed the State Seal of Biliteracy bill into law on March 27, 2014. The state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) expects to convene a group of stakeholders and experts later this year to recommend the criteria for awarding the seal.

Voices from the Event

Education Northwest’s Theresa Deussen, who gave a presentation on the strengths of being bilingual and biliterate, answers the question, What is the Seal of Biliteracy?

State Sen. Pam Roach talks about sponsoring the Seal of Biliteracy bill, which passed with 100 percent support in the state senate.

Roxana Narouzi provides strategic guidance on education policy and implementation for OneAmerica, an organization dedicated to empowering immigrant communities, and speaks about how bilingual education changes schools.

Nina "Will" Williams serves as director of ELL and student services at the Tukwila School District, a district with 37 percent student participation in transitional bilingual programs, and talks about honoring students’ culture.

Bernard Koontz acts as the language learning director at Highline Public Schools, a district with 39 schools in the Puget Sound area, and talks about bilingual education and closing the achievement gap.