Congresswoman Judy Chu wants federal money for bilingual programs

Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu of El Monte
Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu of El Monte
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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Congresswoman Judy Chu unveils a proposal Tuesday to set aside $100 million for voluntary, dual- language classes in public schools.

A growing number of public schools in the Southland pair English learning with immersion in Spanish, Mandarin and German. If approved, the proposal by the San Gabriel-area congresswoman would distribute grants to public schools that want to start similar programs.

Congresswoman Judy Chu says students have missed out because of adult decisions to do away with language instruction. "Perhaps it’s an attitude that English is the dominant language, therefore there’s no necessity for learning a second language," says Chu. "And perhaps it’s the cutbacks in the schools as well."

Chu says fewer than one in five students nationwide study languages other than English, and that puts them at a disadvantage later in life.

Research backs up her claim. Learning more than one language, studies show, enhances creativity and problem-solving skills.