March 4, 2012

Colorado Bill would Facilitate Teaching of Native Languages


Colorado State Senator Suzanne Williams, a member of the Comanche Nation, has sponsored a bill that would make the teaching of Native languages in schools a little easier. An existing federal law requires teachers to be licensed – a regulation most agree is necessary. However, finding a fluent licensed teacher for many Native languages can be difficult or impossible. Frustratingly, a number of otherwise qualified fluent speakers – many of them well-respected elders – would like to share their knowledge with students, but lack the government-required credentials. Colorado Senate Bill 57 would bypass this problem by authorizing Native speakers to be instructors in classes where there is an additional licensed teacher present. While the solution is not ideal, language activists see it as an improvement over the current situation.

SB 57 was approved unanimously by the Senate Education Committee and now goes on to be reviewed by the full Senate. If the bill passes there it will also need the approval of the House of Representatives before becoming state law.

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