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Federal Funding for Foreign Languages Curtailed

The program run by the U.S. Department of Education that provides money to school districts for K-12 foreign-language programs didn't have its budget slashed for fiscal 2011. But that wasn't the case for language programs authorized by the Higher Education Opportunity Act. Funding for 14 language programs nested in that act, some of which give crucial support to K-12 language programs, were cut by 40 percent, from $126 million to $76 million.

I write about the impact of the cuts in an article published today by EdWeek.

One of the 14 programs that was curtailed, for example, finances 15 language resource centers, which provide professional development to K-12 foreign-language teachers and free curriculum and materials to K-12 schools.

The resource center housed at the University of California, Los Angeles, specializes in supporting speakers of heritage languages to become bilingual. Heritage speakers are students who are exposed to a language at home but may not be fluent or be able to read and write in that language. Another of the resource centers, operated out of the University of Minnesota, has a mission to strengthen dual-language programs across the country, which include English-language learners.

Language advocates are disappointed in the cuts, given that they considered federal funding for the teaching of foreign languages to be limited even before the budget reductions. They're calling for a restoration of the funding in fiscal 2012.

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