2018 Testimony | Support HB 0503

  • House Bill 0503 – State Department of Education – Translation Grant Program-Established
  • House Hearing Ways and Means Committee- February 15, 2018

Thank you for this opportunity to submit written testimony concerning an important priority of the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County (WDC) for the 2018 legislative session. WDC is one of the largest and most active Democratic Clubs in Montgomery County. WDC’s members included more than 600 politically active women and men, including many elected officials.

WDC urges the passage of HB0503. This bill establishes a competitive Translation Grant program within the State Department of Education to provide grants to public schools that are experiencing a significant number of requests to translate educational materials into a student's or parent's native language. Priority for these grants will be given to county boards that have a greater number of English language learners in their districts. The bill also requires the Governor to budget at least $250,000 annually for the program beginning in fiscal year 2020Currently, Maryland is among the top 25 states educating students who speak a language other than English in the home, and this population is growing faster in Maryland than it is in the United States. The largest number of these students are in eight school districts: Montgomery, Prince Georges, Howard, Baltimore Frederick, Anne Arundel, and Wicomico Counties and Baltimore City. While the English Language Learners (ELL) are not evenly distributed across the state, the number has been consistently rising in all school districts in the last 10 years, and ELL learners is the largest growing population segment in all school districts (Maryland Equity Project, 2017).

Given the changes in demographics in Maryland public schools, the need for translation services is growing. If we want all children and their families to fully participate in the school experience, it will be necessary to provide educational and informational materials to the children and their parents in their native language. This could result in a significant cost to the local school systems. This grant program will help ameliorate this additional cost and help ensure that providing translation services does not negatively impact other services that the local schools are providing.