Senator Carrión Bill For Bilingual and English Language Development Signed Into Law on Monday

St. Croix, Virgin Islands – Senator Carrión’s bill to update and strengthen the Territory’s Bilingual  and English Language Development programs is soon to be implemented. 

Governor Albert A. Bryan signed the Bilingual and English Language Act into law on Monday. 

“I would like to thank Governor Bryan, my colleagues and all those that worked in support of this  important legislation,” Senator Carrión said. “About 10 percent of our public school students are  considered English Learners, yet we had not updated our policies in this regard since 1972. This  is one of the issues I pledged to address and I am so pleased we are moving forward.” 

Bill #34-0154, now Act 8555, amends various sections of the Virgin Islands Code – setting  minimum proficiency requirements and requiring a comprehensive plan to support English  learners. The measure also sets the foundation for the hiring of qualified ESL teachers, as well as  the training of paraprofessionals, school administrators, counselors, and other personnel. 

Senator Carrión said the bill aims to enhance the United States 1968 Bilingual Act, adopted locally  in 1972. 

“It had been almost 50 years without any substantial revisions to this statute,” Senator Carrión  said. “Just as we need new and modern school campuses, we also need to update our education  policies and requirements. It is our duty to ensure that our English learners have the tools they  need to become productive members of this community. I want every Virgin Islands student to  have the foundation necessary to succeed. This legislation represents progress for us all!” 

Educators praised Senator Carrión’s efforts to improve the Education Department’s English  learning programs and offered input to strengthen the bill. 

“I, myself, was a student that only spoke Spanish at home before entering school and I’m all too  aware of the challenges faced by students, teachers, and parents. I remain grateful that this measure  was met with such widespread support,” he said. “I look forward to checking in with the  Department of Education in the weeks ahead for a report on improvements being made to its  English Learning program.”