From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: David Quin o Kelvin Bass
(512) 463-0123 / (214) 467-0123
Monday, November 9, 2004

Multi-cultural kids need multi-lingual teachers
Senator West files bill promoting dual-language instruction in public schools

AUSTIN -- State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) pre-filed legislation Monday, November 8, 2004, that will greatly expand existing dual-language programs in Texas public schools. Under Senate Bill 61, dual language instruction will enable English-speaking students to learn other languages as early as elementary school. November 8th was the first day to pre-file legislation in anticipation of the 2005 session of the Texas Legislature that starts January 11, 2005.

"We are all aware of the demographic and ethnic changes that our State Demographer, Dr. Steve Murdoch, has forecast for Texas in the 21st Century," said Senator West. "By 2026, the Hispanic population is projected to become a majority of the state's population. This legislation will create incentives for our teachers to learn Spanish so they can better prepare our students in public schools where a majority of the kids are of Hispanic descent."

Senate Bill 61 will create tuition exemptions for students seeking teaching degrees to become certified in bilingual education, dual language instruction, or as English as a second language (ESL) instructors. It also creates a master language teacher certification program for educators to train in multiple language instruction for fellow teachers and students. In addition, the bill would allow grant funds for instructors who wish to gain expertise in teaching additional languages.

"The United States Census Bureau recently announced that already, less than one-half of Texas citizens are Anglo," said Senator West. "Now's the time to prepare our non-Spanish speaking citizens to live and function in an increasingly diverse and growing multi-cultural society. We cannot sit by and watch change happen. For Texas to grow and prosper, we must be ahead of the curve when it comes to educating the next generation."

The Texas Federation of Teachers supports the proposed legislation, which also provides an exemption for teachers' aides who become certified in bilingual, dual language or ESL instruction.

Senator West currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee and is Chair of the Senate Sub-committee on Higher Education.

For more information, contact David Quin at 512-463-0123 or Kelvin Bass at 214-467-0123.