Shaheen Joins Bill to Invest in Biliteracy Programs to Strengthen Our Workforce & National Security

March 19, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) in introducing the Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act to prepare young people to compete in the global workforce. The bill establishes a federal grant program to help states implement a Seal of Biliteracy program that encourages high school students to achieve proficiency in English and at least one other language.

In New Hampshire, students across the state will be eligible to receive the State Seal of Biliteracy for the first time in spring 2021 after the program was approved by the Commissioner of Education in September. The award was adopted in Manchester in 2016; since then more than 150 high school seniors have earned the distinction.

“Language learning enriches our students’ education and cultural competency, and strengthens our security and competitiveness in the globalized economy. That’s why I’m glad to partner with Senator Schatz on this legislation to invest in our students and national security by supporting biliteracy programs in schools,” said Shaheen. “I look forward to working in Congress and with the Biden administration to expand educational opportunities and language proficiency to position our students for success on the global stage.”

“The NH Association of World Language Teachers along with the NH Statewide English Learner Educator network feel it is critical to recognize the proficiency our students have in more than one language. Not only does it open doors at the university level and in the workforce, but it also clearly highlights skills that set our students apart - desire to know the world, intercultural competency, and the ability to communicate. We are proud to recognize heritage speakers and world language learners in New Hampshire and we thank Senator Shaheen for her leadership in this area,” said Cindi Hodgdon, President of the NH Association of World Language Teachers.

The Seals of Biliteracy program recognizes graduating high school seniors who have proficiency in at least two languages – colleges and universities use this program to distinguish students’ valuable language expertise. Opportunities for students to earn a Seal of Biliteracy are created through partnerships with communities and test makers across the country. The BEST Act promotes biliteracy by authorizing $10 million to award grants to states to establish, improve and implement Seal of Biliteracy programs, as well as expand them to include Native American languages. Biliteracy is shown to improve student outcomes, strengthen national security and support our economy.

Full text of the bill is available here, and a one page summary is available here.