PRESS RELEASE: OneAmerica Celebrates House Passing Bill Embracing Multilingualism after Years of Advocacy


February 12, 2024

Magaly Smith, OneAmerica Senior Communications Manager
253-314-3897 |

Immigrant Rights Organization, OneAmerica, Celebrates House Passing Bill Embracing Multilingualism after Years of Advocacy
Washington One-Step Closer to Becoming a Quality Dual Language State that Values Multilingualism

[Seattle, WA] – House Bill 1228 aimed at creating a permanent funding system for Dual Language, Heritage Language and Tribal Language Programs unanimously passed the Washington State House of Representatives this morning. Dual language (DL) programs teach students in two languages, English and a partner language, and have proven to be the most effective way to educate designated English Language Learning (ELLs) students. Since 2017, OneAmerica and its immigrant leaders have advocated for continued funding for DL programs. The passage of this bill is a victory that will provide sustainability and longevity to these programs and help ensure Washington State’s education system is accessible to immigrant children and celebrates multilingualism.

“Dual Language is a long-term investment in students becoming bilingual and biliterate. This instructional model helps students, whose heritage language is not English, access content while they are working through language barriers.” Said OneAmerica’s Education Policy Manager Radu Smintina. “It creates a more inclusive and multi-cultural learning environment. The passage of HB 1228 writes Dual Language into statute which will help safeguard future dual language funding and formally validates our intention to invest in these programs, as a state, so that we may realize the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) vision of Dual Language access to all students by 2040.”

HB 1228, sponsored by Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, would set up permanent grant funding for new and expanding Dual Language, Heritage Language and Tribal Language programs and require OSPI to share a plan for dual language expansion with the legislature by November 1, 2024. “The future of Washington is inclusive and serves all communities,” said Rep. Ortiz-Self. “That simply isn’t possible without multilingualism and fostering a sense of understanding with all cultures. Let’s nurture language diversity and unlock the potential of every child.”

According to OSPI’s Washington State Report Card, there are currently over 146,000 designated ELLs attending public schools in Washington State. These students represent hundreds of cultures and languages in our public school system, and conclusive research demonstrates that immigrant students who are designated Emerging Multilinguals experience greater academic achievement and cultural competence from participating in these programs.

“In Washington State, dual Language is an equalizer for our multilingual students and their families. It can help preserve communication and relationships within families and across generations in our society.” Shared Aide Villalobos, Dual Language teacher at Evergreen Elementary School. “My family and I did not have access to Dual Language programs 45 years ago, but this is now 2024. The research is clear: Dual Language is the most effective program for English Learners. I have witnessed the effects of dual language as a dual language teacher of 20 years, and I am fortunate that my own children participate in dual language learning. We need to normalize this opportunity for multilingual families and others in their communities so that they may have an equitable foundation in their public-school education and beyond.”

High quality dual language programs benefit students of all language backgrounds, both immigrant/refugee students and American-born, English-speaking students. The passage of HB 1228 demonstrates the Washington House of Representatives’ commitment to our students. After passing out of the House Floor, the bill will move to the Senate and must be voted out by March 1st to be signed by the Governer and into law.


OneAmerica advances the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state, and national levels by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies.