San Jose Spotlight


Funk: Literacy program at Oak Grove making difference for English learners

The SEAL model produces powerful language skills and rich academic vocabulary development through hands-on science and social studies based thematic units addressing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). SEAL also supports parents to develop language and literacy practices with their children at home and in the classrooms that result in authentic family engagement and a home-to-school connection. […]

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San Jose Spotlight2023-04-06T17:56:26-07:00

Building an Equitable System for DLLs in the California Master Plan for Early Learning and Care


As the state copes with the profound shocks of COVID-19, civil rights uprisings, and the constant threat of environmental devastation, California must recapture the forward-looking optimism that was building before the pandemic. We must channel it into re-envisioning our early learning and care (ELC) system as one that boldly centers equity, addresses systemic racism, and strengthens its mixed delivery system infrastructure.

The majority of young California children are dual language learners (DLLs), children under the age of six developing English in addition to their home language. Many of these children come from low-income families of color that are least able to weather the pandemic’s hardships. Inequities in the pandemic response have been egregious. But we should not lose sight of the fact that they are dramatic escalations of opportunity gaps that have long been woven into California’s education system.

California is currently developing a Master Plan for ELC to guide its early education efforts in the coming years. As we design our ELC system, we must collectively build on the California English Learner Roadmap State Policy’s multilingual and multicultural promise that addresses the specific needs of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian and Pacific Islander children acquiring a second language. It’s clearer than ever that a child’s home language and culture are central to their healthy growth and development, and this must be reflected in all of the state’s policies and practices. Therefore, support for DLLs’ cultural and linguistic strengths should not be viewed as optional. Now is the moment to ensure that our most vulnerable young children receive equitable, high-quality education that sets them on a path to success.

In addition to addressing significant short-term challenges, state leaders must address the following long-term measures to ensure fair and equitable treatment of DLLs and their families and the dedicated early educators who work to support them. We propose recommendations to our state leaders in the following areas:

  1. DATA: Ensure that the home languages and linguistic profiles of the child are meaningfully included in the development of the Early Childhood Integrated Data System. There is currently no uniform process to identify DLLs across the ELC system. Collecting accurate data is critical to continuous quality improvement and supports for DLLs. It will assist stakeholders to better understand the needs of DLL children and families, and will provide data about program access, participation, and child outcomes. This data collection process will require systemic improvements in how ELC programs across the mixed delivery system engage with families. The ELC system should build in support for administrators and early educators to conduct family interviews when children enroll and throughout the year so that programs are aware of—and continuously supporting—children’s language development and the family’s goals for their child.
  2. WORKFORCE: Support the current early learning workforce in effectively serving DLLs in California’s ELC programs. This means making DLLs’ needs central to pre-service training for educators. For instance, the state should require DLL content in the Child Development Permit, the state’s early educator preparation system. This will also require DLL-focused educator training programs to increase their capacity for providing coursework and training. In addition, the state should develop a bilingual authorization for early educators to teach in bilingual early learning settings. Finally, to ensure the existing early learning workforce is equipped to meet the needs of DLLs and their families, the state must invest in professional development focused on best practices for supporting DLLs.
  3. QUALITY: Prioritize resources for quality improvement (e.g. in Quality Counts funding) to embed DLL content in Professional Development strategy frameworks and support early educators with coaches and mentors on best practices for working with DLLs. Resources for professional development must include best practices for DLLs and their families across the mixed-delivery system and age ranges. To effectively facilitate such support, state leaders must ensure that long-term systemic revisions in the Quality Counts criteria address the needs of DLLs and their families. This also includes investment in assessment tools in multiple home languages and training for assessors that are culturally and linguistically responsive and competent to measure DLL children’s growth and progress.

With California’s Master Plan for ELC, we have the opportunity right now to build a system that paves the way for our children’s success. We must not lose sight of the long-term systemic issues negatively impacting DLLs as we tackle urgent COVID-19 response needs. The Master Plan for ELC can address these issues and strengthen the ELC system to build on California’s rich multicultural and multilingual diversity, where all DLL children can thrive with access to culturally and linguistically competent care designed around their specific needs and assets. Being intentional about including our DLL children in the design of the ELC system will lead to a stronger future for California families and for our state.

This blog is a part of a blog series in collaboration with Advancement Project California, Early Edge California, and the Sobrato Early Academic Language. For more information on our policy recommendations to address DLL children and families’ needs during COVID-19 and beyond, please click here: COVID-19 Rapid Response: Urgent Needs of Dual Language Learner Children and Families (APCA Link/EECA Link).

Building an Equitable System for DLLs in the California Master Plan for Early Learning and Care2023-04-06T17:59:09-07:00

Remembering Ruby Takanishi (1946 ─ 2020)


It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the passing of our founding board member, and longtime dual-language learner advocate, Dr. Ruby Takanishi. The early education leader and research pioneer passed away peacefully earlier this month. Her legacy within the field and the extended SEAL community inspires our collective responsibility to carry it forward.

Dr. Takanishi’s values and passion were evident throughout her lifelong work. She was an extraordinary leader in the field of research who quickly earned a national reputation as a champion of early childhood education. Once quoted saying “primary education today reflects the social and economic divides in our country,” her sharp, evidence-based approach to tackling systemic barriers in education challenged policy-makers to reimagine public school systems nationally. Notably, Dr.Takanishi led the launch of the preschool through 3rd movement in 2003 as the president and CEO of the Foundation for Child Development.

Ruby played a critical role in SEAL’s pilot, replication, and growth into a nonprofit organization. During the preliminary years leading to SEAL’s development, Dr. Takanishi was one of the leading experts tapped by the Sobrato Family Foundation. It was Dr. Takanishi’s early education policy research that helped set the stage for the SEAL model. As chair of the 2017 National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report, Promoting the Educational Success of Children and Youth Learning English: Promising Futures, Dr. Takanishi helped ensure SEAL was included as a spotlight within this meta-analysis. Furthermore, it was a great honor that Dr. Takanishi became a founding SEAL board member.

Dr. Takanishi has been recognized by the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association (Division of Children and Families), and the Society for Research in Child Development for her contribution to connecting research with public policies. In 2014, the American Education Research Association honored her with its Distinguished Public Service Award. Most recently, she served as a senior research fellow in the Early and Elementary Education Policy division at New America in Washington, DC.

Dr. Takanishi’s accolades are only a small testament to a lifetime of achievement. Ruby was both brilliant and generous, she acted as a mentor to many and gave all of herself to colleagues and friends alike. Even in her final months, she never missed an opportunity to act as a bridge of communication, connection, and inspiration. Her legacy both propels and inspires us to live up to her vision of educational equity for all children, especially our youngest dual language learners. While we mourn this enormous loss, we are up for the challenge – she wouldn’t want it any other way.

Our deepest condolences go out to Ruby’s family and loved ones in this time of immense challenge. Ruby’s friends and family have created a website to celebrate her life. Check it out here.

Remembering Ruby Takanishi (1946 ─ 2020)2023-04-06T18:02:44-07:00
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