History of NABE
As a tireless advocacy organization since 1976, NABE has worked diligently over the years to influence and create policies, programs, research, pedagogy and professional development to improve the education of English Learners (ELs). NABE has relied on its affiliates, membership, and board members to provide a vision for the country as it relates to the education of ELs. Primarily, NABE has been promoting and supporting the use of the native language instruction through dual language enrichment programs, most commonly Spanish and English. However, ELs represent over 100 languages and although less common, bilingual and dual language programs are also available in German/English, French/English, Chinese/English, Vietnamese/English, Navaho/English, Apache/English, etc., across the United States. Internationally, languages are usually indigenous and the majority language such as: Quechua/Spanish, Garifuna/Spanish, Nahuatl/Spanish, etc. NABE has encouraged the development of intercultural understanding and has demonstrated that educators can learn to effectively value and promote cross cultural and linguistic pluralism.
1994 – 2002 Title VII Bilingual Education Act
NABE was instrumental in the passage of the Title VII Bilingual Education Act in the U. S. Congress. It was reauthorized every four years as an amendment to the Improving America’s School Act of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Funding was available to school districts and universities in the form of competitive grants to develop exemplary bilingual and dual language programs, foreign language programs, and to prepare and certify quality bilingual teachers.
2003-2011 – No Child Left Behind Act of the ESEA
The NCLB Act replaced the Title VII Bilingual Education Act with the Title III English Language Acquisition Act. Most of the funding became formula grants to states based on the number of students whose dominant language is other than English. NABE worked hard to make sure that states could still use the funding for bilingual and dual language programs, but English programs became predominant. NABE continued to advocate for bilingual and dual language education through announcements, press releases, its website, its national conferences, meetings, coalitions, support to states, technical assistance, etc., in spite of an environment of anti-bilingual education.
2012-2015 – Advocacy with HEC and NHL Organizations – HR 5 All Students Success Act of the ESEA
NABE has been an active member of the Hispanic Education Council (HEC) which unites 14 organizations dedicated to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for the more than 54 million Latinos living in the United States and Puerto Rico. Also, it has been an active member of the National Hispanic Leadership (NHL) which is a coalition of 39 national Latino nonpartisan civil rights and advocacy organizations. NABE and both coalitions worked tirelessly to make sure that emerging bilinguals were well represented in the newly passed congressional bill H.R. 5, the All Students Success Act.
2012 to 2015 – the Seal of Biliteracy
This initiative, conceptualized by Californians Together, was launched in California in 2012. The initiative consists of an award made by a state department of education or local district to recognize a student who has attained proficiency in English and one or more other world languages by high school graduation. The recognition of attaining biliteracy becomes part of the high school transcript and diploma for these students in the form of a seal. The NABE 2012 conference in Dallas, Texas promoted this initiative and has continued to support these efforts to this day. Since 2012, 35 states have adopted the Seal of Biliteracy. In 2015, The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the National Association for Bilingual Education, the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages, and TESOL International Association, drafted recommendations for its continued implementation.
2015 – NABE move and NABE Dual Language Symposium
NABE moved its offices to Ana G. Méndez University, a Dual Language university located in Wheaton, MD. This is a strong collaboration among both entities. A full-time office manager handles the membership and the day to day operation of the organization. In July 2015, the first NABE Dual Language Symposium (NABE DLS) was offered to 40 participants from across the U.S. designed to focus on dual language program development and implementation. NABE DLS has since been held annually in several locations across the country, including one held in Puerto Rico in 2016.
2016 – 2018
My Name, My Identity Campaign
In partnership with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, NABE initiated a national platform for the My Name, My Identity Campaign, and encouraged all its affiliates to join in this compelling effort. The My Name, My Identity Campaign is an opportunity to build a respectful culture in our schools and communities that values diversity and promotes global awareness. It encourages individuals to make pledges to pronounce students’ names correctly and to learn the stories behind their names. Pronouncing students’ names correctly helps foster students’ self-confidence and their own sense of identity. This historic initiative received strong support from McGraw-Hill Education. The Coca-Cola Company issued a confirmed sponsorship for the 2017 NABE Global Ambassador Scholarship in Dallas, Texas. This initiative received commendations from California Assembly Member Kansen Chu, California Senators Jim Beall and Ricardo Lara, and Congressman Mike Honda.
NABE Trailblazers and Past Presidents
NABE implemented its 45th annual conference in Chicago where many of the past presidents and trailblazers were recognized during the Awards Luncheon on March 3rd. Trailblazers Maria Medina Seidner and Macario Saldate were in attendance. President Yee Wan invited them to help form the Past presidents’ Advisory Council. This group met on March 5th to plan support for NABE.
International NABE Affiliates
For the first time in the history of NABE and thanks to the efforts of President Yee Wan, the Country of China became the first international affiliate of NABE in 2016. On September of this same year, Spain was approved by the board as its second international affiliate. NABE currently has 20 state/regional affiliates and 4 international affiliates, which collectively represent more than 5,000 members.
Every Student Can Succeed Act
NABE was very involved in the process of the passing of the Elementary and Secondary Education law (ESEA) Every Student Can Succeed Act (ESSA). It worked closely with the Hispanic Education Coalition to send joint letters for or against parts of the bill. In general, Title III funding for English language learner education was preserved. However, some drastic accountability measures that will impact our EL students were passed.
Thanks to the great work of President Yee Wan, on April 18, 2016 California Congressman Michael Honda passed House Resolution 690 recognizing and celebrating April as the “National Bilingual/Multilingual Learner Advocacy Month.” This legacy is for many years to come so that our students can be recognized and acknowledged every year in all schools.
The above are just a few examples of the efforts that NABE has carried out for the past 48 years. Credit is given to many constituents, board members, and to the executive directors from those years: Jim Lyons, Delia Pompa, James Crawford, and Santiago Wood.