The year was 1984; a Harvard education cost $9,035 a year, Madonna was atop the billboard charts, the average annual income was $21,599 and the Los Angeles Raiders, yes Los Angeles Raiders, were Super Bowl Champions when Texas set the funding weight for bilingual education.

When the bilingual education weight was established, the recommendation was that it be at 0.4 percent. The funding weight, however, was set at 0.1 percent and that is where it still remains after 31 years! It is time to raise the funding weight for bilingual education to a level that will adequately support Texas bilingual education programs.

As the oral arguments for the current school finance litigation begin before the Texas Supreme Court on September first, it must be noted that while the State of Texas has repeatedly been found to be negligent in providing a general diffusion of knowledge with the funding it currently provides, bilingual education has also suffered. Bilingual education funding has and continues to be the lowest funded program in our current school finance system. Seemingly the justification has been that the program was funded at such a low level in 1984 because it only serviced 200,000 students then.

Now, however, there are over 900,000 English Language Learners (ELLs) in Texas schools and ELLs constitute close to 20 percent of the total student population. While equity and adequacy will be front and center when the court convenes, Judge Dietz’ ruling that “the Texas School finance system violates the ‘make suitable provision’ clause in Article VII, Section I of the Texas Constitution because the system is not ‘structured, operated, and funded’ so that it can accomplish its purpose for the economically disadvantaged and English Language Learners” will be as well.

It is important to note that we are not talking old school bilingual education which primarily served students whose first language was Spanish. We are talking about the booming popularity of dual language programs that Texas school districts are sprinting to implement and where ALL students benefit, including students whose first language is English. Many dual language programs provide instruction in both Spanish and English to students from English-speaking and Spanish-speaking backgrounds with the goals of bilingualism and biliteracy for both groups of students. In other words, we’re not talking just about Juan; we’re also talking about John and Jennifer.

Dual language programs, or enrichment programs in which content and literacy are taught in two languages, are so effective that they are now implemented in over 1,000 campuses statewide and can be found in many school districts in Texas. Realistically, we are talking about economic development because that is what this is all about; an educated Texas workforce for all of our children. This is about our viability in a global economy!

Finally, we must all come to the realization that it doesn’t cost to educate a child; it pays to educate a child and the State of Texas should fully fund education for all of our children.