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State Seal

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz recognizing a student’s proficiency in one or more world languages in addition to English cleared the Assembly yesterday.

S3279 would establish a State Seal of Biliteracy which would be attached to a graduating student’s high school transcript who attained proficiency in one or more foreign languages in addition to English. A certificate, prepared by the Commissioner of Education, would also be awarded to the student.

“This piece of legislation will not only give bilingual students the acknowledgement and recognition they deserve, but it will also encourage other students to learn different languages,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “As a career educator I recognize the great benefit to students of mastering more than one language. This is a skill that will not only help them to expand their understanding of other world regions, but will also help to provide them additional career opportunities in the future.”

A foreign language other than English could also include Latin, American Sign Language, and Native American languages.

“Students must have the skills they need to compete in a 21st Century global economy. Proficiency in multiple languages is a skill that will expand opportunities for our young people and allow them to more effectively participate in a workforce which is no longer bound by national borders,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “We should encourage students to study multiple languages and recognize the achievements of those who have excelled in doing so.”

Currently 12 states and the District of Columbia have enacted the Seal of Biliteracy through legislation. These include: Washington; California; Nevada; New Mexico; Texas; Minnesota; Illinois; Indiana; New York; Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Eleven more states are in the early stages of establishing or considering the Seal.

The bill was approved 72-2. It cleared the Senate 37-0 last week and now heads to the Governor.

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