Language Acccess Act to improve student performance OK’d by Legislature, pending final concurrence in House

A new law being considered in Olympia could help parents who aren’t fluent in English play a bigger part in their children’s education.

Supporters of the bill say even parents who speak English well could have trouble with some specialized education terms they hear in meetings with their children’s teachers. For the estimated one million immigrants in a state where more than a dozen languages are spoken, the disconnect can far more serious, and students suffer without full parental involvement. State Representative Tina Orwall introduced the bill to make sure schools are communicating with families, students, and the community, in the appropriate languages.

“This bill is going to give schools the tools that they need so that they can really provide language access services to families so that they can be involved in their children’s education. The bill started with families. It’s about making their voices be heard and for them to be welcome.” said Orwall.

Orwall, a Democrat from Des Moines and speaker pro tem of the House, got her language-access bill through both legislative chambers with big bipartisan margins. If the House concurs as expected with changes made by the Senate, the next stop is the governor’s desk.