SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. to establish a grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs cleared the full Senate last month.
“The best way for a student to excel in a foreign language is an immersion program,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “The ability to be bilingual or multilingual is increasingly necessary for study, work and coexistence, and provides cultural awareness to children at a young age. It also gives young people a more pluralistic vision of the world which helps them be prepared for the demands of the 21st century labor market. Most importantly it contributes to the economic diversity and growth of our state.”
“"The passage of this legislation is essential to our ability to build a global future for all of New Jersey’s children.” Said Amanda Seewald of the Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey. “Dual language immersion programs have proven to be a successful pathway to educational growth across all subjects and areas of inquiry. The outcomes we've seen in other states are astonishing and now New Jersey will have the chance to honor its diverse and exceptional history of powerful education with a dynamic new step.”
The bill, S-1630, would require the Commissioner of Education, with the approval of the State Board of Educations, to establish and administer a dual language immersion program that would begin in kindergarten or first grade and meet any other requirements established by the commissioner. Under the bill, any school district or charter school which wants to apply to participate in the grant program should submit a proposal to the commissioner in such form as prescribed by the commissioner.
The commissioner would select grant recipients based upon the quality of the proposed program and its potential to increase student biliteracy, and would select recipients in the northern, central, and southern regions of the State. The commissioner would allocate to each selected school district and charter school a grant in such amount as the commissioner may deem necessary to support the dual language immersion program. The school district or charter school would be eligible to receive funds if it uses an instructional model that provides at least 50 percent of its instruction in Chinese, Spanish, French, or any other language approved by the commissioner.
The bill would establish the Dual Language Immersion Program Fund as a non-lapsing revolving fund in the Department of Education to finance the grant program.
The bill was cleared by the Senate with a vote of 35-1.