Nearly 2.6 million California K-12 public school students (41.8%) bring a linguistic asset with them to school every day: living in homes where a language other than English is spoken. A majority of these students (1.4 million) demonstrate English proficiency during their school years. But students’ home language skills are often neglected at school and that means many do not receive the state biliteracy designation on their high school diplomas that could benefit students as they apply for higher education and employment opportunities.
State policymakers have significantly expanded California’s Earned Income Tax Credit — the CalEITC — since the credit was first enacted in 2015. However, hundreds of thousands of immigrant families are excluded from benefiting from the CalEITC as well as from California’s new Young Child Tax Credit, which is tied to CalEITC eligibility.
California has a key advantage in meeting the increasing demand for a multi-lingual workforce: nearly 2.6 million K-12 public school students who live in homes where a language other than English is spoken. A majority of these students (1.4 million) have demonstrated English proficiency either when they started school or after being categorized as English learners. However, only a small share of these students have been able to demonstrate literacy in their home language — a sign that policymakers and education leaders are missing a key opportunity to leverage the language assets of the state’s students.
The California Budget & Policy Center’s guide, The CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit: Smart Investments to Broaden Economic Security for Californians, provides an overview of how refundable state income tax credits help people who earn little from their jobs to pay for basic necessities and support families, children, and communities.
Every day, millions of California students come to school with an invaluable asset: living in homes where a language other than English is spoken. However, this asset is often squandered as many of these students do not become literate in their home language. Achieving biliteracy benefits the students who are proficient in more than one language, the schools and colleges they attend, and the communities where these bilingual Californians live and eventually work.