Policy Docs

The State of Hawaii and its policymakers increasingly recognize the social, cultural, and economic value of being multilingual. Recognition encompassing indigenous, heritage, as well as world languages has grown.

Immediately after revising its Hawaiian education and Kaiapuni language policies, the Hawaiʻi State Board of Education (BOE) passed two additional historic policies:  the Seal of Biliteracy and Multilingualism for Equitable Education.

The Seal of Biliteracy promotes the generally latent, yet prolific linguistic talent of our public school students, talent that will fuel Hawaiʻi’s robust economic growth, support international business and military/diplomatic relations, as well as serve the needs of service providers (e.g., state services, healthcare, financial and legal assistance, etc.).

The Multilingualism for Equitable Education policy is founded on a re-imagining of how we work with linguistically and culturally diverse learners, from a deficit-based to an asset-based perspective in order to provide EL students and families with  necessary services.

These policies see multilingual and multicultural competence as a necessity in our local workforce, and in our communities. The Seal of Biliteracy directly responds to the unmet need for a linguistically agile workforce identified by the federally supported Hawaii Language Roadmap at UHM through its 4-year engagement with business and community leaders. The need for language skills to grow our state’s skilled workforce is further addressed with the asset-based approach to identifying English Language Learners as Multilingual Learners.  The policy aims to enable these learners to gain the language skills they need to graduate from high school and contribute to the State GDP. At the same time, they will be supported and encouraged to maintain their first language skills, which not only serves to maintain social harmony within their home communities, but also improves their employment outlook and benefits State and private enterprise.

Senate of the United States. (2020). A Bill: Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching Act or BEST Act.