Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., introduced legislation today to help American students compete in the global economy. Her Global Languages Early Education (GLEE) Act authorizes $100 million to establish bilingual early-learning programs in schools across the country. These programs will help close the gap that exists between the United States and the rest of the world, where foreign language learning is often compulsory. In 2008, only 15 percent of our nation's elementary students enrolled in foreign language courses.
Chu's bill allocates funds toward schools that serve low-income students. It also encourages them to develop public-private partnerships and offer a diverse set of languages that increase competitiveness and national security. An expert research council will advise and guide national research on the best practices and models for this instruction.
"If we're to maintain America's place in the world economy, we must ensure our future workers can compete in it," Chu said. "Developing our youngest minds is the best path towards increased fluency now and improved ability later. That's why I'm proud to introduce the GLEE Act. Early-education bilingual programs are a sound public investment that pave the way for a lifetime of success."
Research shows that putting money in high-quality early education provides more than $7 in returns for every dollar spent. Additionally, multiple studies show that learning a second language improves cognitive flexibility and ability. Because bilingual learners naturally consider multiple meanings for words, they're more able to manage and react to complex situations, making them well-suited for executive and managerial positions.
The GLEE Act has the support of many outside organizations including Preschool California, strong advocates for expanded early education bilingual learning instruction who worked closely with Chu to draft the bill.
"This legislation provides a significant opportunity for California's children," said Preschool California President, Catherine Atkin. "Research highlights the academic and developmental benefits of dual language learning in the early years, especially for English Language Learners. With California's public schools currently serving 27 percent of the nation's English language learners, the GLEE Act is an important step forward toward narrowing the achievement gap for our state's -- and our nation's--children."
Representative Judy Chu was elected in July 2009 to the U.S. House of Representatives as the Representative of California's 32nd District, which includes East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. She is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Government Oversight Committee, and Education and Labor Committee, where the GLEE Act was introduced.
Congresswoman Chu's career in politics spans 24 years. A lifelong educator, Congresswoman Chu taught community college classes in Los Angeles and East Los Angeles for 20 years. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology and a B.A. in mathematics.