The neoliberal logic of state seals of biliteracy

Maria C. Schwedhelm, Kendall A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

State-issued seals and certificates of biliteracy are increasingly common nationwide. Nevertheless, limited research to date has examined how this state legislation functions as language in education policy and the ideological foundations of these policies. Addressing this gap, the present paper examines state seals as an instance of neoliberal language education policy and addresses how the policy has been constructed in public discourse and interview narratives and how it has been implemented to date. Focusing on one state, Minnesota, we demonstrate the neoliberal logic that undergirds state seals of biliteracy. Data revealed uneven availability of assessments and access to seals across the state. Access was largely determined by market-oriented, rational choice ideologies, and dependent upon the language and district in question. Analysis also suggested that while Minnesota seals have been constructed in public discourse as a financial asset, their value is unclear in a potentially inflated marketplace of academic credentials within the state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-27
Number of pages16
JournalForeign Language Annals
Volume53
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank all of our participants, and Ursula Lentz in particular, for sharing data and insights. We also recognize, respect and support the many individuals, including Ursula, as well as St. Paul Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, ACTFL, the Tamil community, MDE and speakers of many Minnesota Indigenous and World languages who have worked so hard to enable thousands of Minnesota students to earn seals and world language proficiency certificates to date. This research was supported by a CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition) Summer Fellowship Grant and an ACTFL Research Initiatives Grant. All ideas are ours and do not necessarily reflect those of our funders.

Funding Information:
We would like to thank all of our participants, and Ursula Lentz in particular, for sharing data and insights. We also recognize, respect and support the many individuals, including Ursula, as well as St. Paul Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, ACTFL, the Tamil community, MDE and speakers of many Minnesota Indigenous and World languages who have worked so hard to enable thousands of Minnesota students to earn seals and world language proficiency certificates to date. This research was supported by a CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition) Summer Fellowship Grant and an ACTFL Research Initiatives Grant. All ideas are ours and do not necessarily reflect those of our funders.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Keywords

  • certificates
  • credentials
  • language policy
  • multilingualism
  • neoliberalism

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