Bilingual students would receive special seal on school diploma

There’s an effort going on, principally downstate, to set up a new educational program that we’re guessing most in that community will support, once details are known.

It’s being called Seal of Biliteracy and, in a nutshell, it’s a seal on a high school diploma awarded by a school, school district or county office of education to recognize students who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English.

To date, 27 states have adopted some form of this program. A task force comprised of educators and state officials to develop a program here in Michigan. The goal is to have requirements and standards for the program set up by the end of 2018. The program would still have to be approved by the Michigan Department of Education, which is participating in the task force.

Why the focus on languages other than English? Sixty-six percent of employers prefer bilingual candidates, according to the study “Employer Preferences: Do Bilingual Applicants and Employees Experience an Advantage?” In addition, companies in Michigan do a lot of business in other countries. Having bilingual employees on staff certainly aids in that process.

In Michigan, some districts have already implemented a local program. For example, the Dearborn School District established its own Seal of Biliteracy in 2014. Others, we’re told, are considering a similar move.

This is a program that will aid Michigan graduates in many different ways. We look forward to it being implemented.