by Carolyne Crolotte and Giannina Pérez
The governor and policymakers can help lead California into a new era where all high school graduates are bilingual and biliterate. This work should include overhauling how we educate and support Dual Language Learners, beginning in the earliest years of life.
Every young child in California has access to high-quality Early Learning teachers and programs that provide them with the opportunity to become bilingual and biliterate.
In California, 60 percent of children age 5 and under are dual language learners (DLLs). Despite the assets associated with bilingualism (confidence, communication, and strong language and cognitive skills), DLL children tend to fall behind in school. Twenty-nine percent are in families below the federal poverty line, and the same proportion have parents without a high school diploma. They are less likely to attend high quality preschool than their peers, and they tend to enter kindergarten behind, particularly in the areas of language, literacy, and math. This group of children is also at risk of losing competence in their home language when they are exposed to English-only settings during their early years in school, which has been linked to poor long-term