SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A new law from state Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, will increase educational opportunities for new Americans by recognizing the accomplishments of students who learn English as a second language. Non-native speakers who excel at learning English as a second language can now qualify for the State Seal of Biliteracy, which can help them in the college application process and meet requirements toward a degree.
“Young people who don’t speak English as their first language are faced with many challenges in their education. We need to do a better job acknowledging their accomplishments,” Hernandez said. “For years, the State Seal of Biliteracy has gone to English-speaking students who learned a second language. Non-English-speaking students should get the same prospects.”
Hernandez was the chief sponsor on House Bill 3237, which expands ways for students to demonstrate their proficiency with English. These are necessary so students whose second language is English can receive the State Seal of Biliteracy in addition to college credit. The bill received strong bipartisan support, and was recently signed into law.
“This legislation is a critical step towards levelling the playing field for non-native English speakers,” Hernandez said. “I want Illinois to be a state where everyone, no matter their background, feels welcome. Correcting discrepancies in our education system is key to building a future for Illinois where all young people receive the opportunities they deserve.”