Texas is home to over 1 million emergent bilingual students that represent 70 different home languages. That’s 20% of all students in Texas public schools. This legislative session, several positive bills that improve bilingual education are gaining momentum.
SB 2066 – Passed Full Senate 4/29/2021
Recognizing that bilingualism is an asset to embrace, SB 2066 changes outdated terms in the education code like “English learner” and “limited English proficient” to “emergent bilingual” student. This change honors the knowledge and skills these students bring to the classroom and helps shift the focus to dual-language approaches in bilingual education.
SB 560 – Passed Full Senate 4/29/2021 and HB 2258 – Passed House Education Committee 4/23/2021
SB 560 and HB 2258 aim to address the fact that the number of bilingual teachers is on the decline, while the number of emergent bilingual students continues to increase. This imbalance has resulted in too many emergent bilingual students receiving inadequate access to a high-quality bilingual education program.
These bills require collaboration between the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Texas Workforce Commission to develop a statewide strategic plan to, among other goals:
- Increase the number of certified bilingual educators;
- Increase the availability of one-way and two-way dual language programs; and
- Elevate the importance of bilingual education in early education.
There is still time for the Legislature to prioritize emergent bilingual students and pass these bills. See our report Creating a More Bilingual Texas to learn more about bilingual education in Texas.