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Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) was founded in 2008 with the mission to improve outcomes for Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and English Learners (ELs). DLLs/ELs are a sizable population that is marginalized and underserved in California’s schools. Twice as likely to drop out of high school as their peers who are native English speakers (Callahan, 2005), DLLs/ELs constitute almost 20% of California’s K–12 population. SEAL believes that inequities faced by California’s DLLs/ELs are largely the result of linguicism, a set of ideologies, structures, and practices used to legitimate and reproduce inequities between groups on the basis of language (Skutnabb-Kangas, Linguicism. The encyclopedia of applied linguistics. Blackwell, 2015). While linguicism is clearly linked to and intertwined with racism, it also exists in its own right as an explicit ideology as well as a set of structures and policies that have real, material effects on the lives of millions of children across California. Thus, SEAL works from a systems-change perspective to dismantle linguistic ideologies, policies, and practices across California’s school system. Our well-elaborated professional development model and 12 years of experience in schools enable us to address linguicism within classrooms, schools, districts, and the broader school system.

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  1. 1.

    While the overwhelming majority of California’s DLLs/ELs have a home language of Spanish, over 70 different language groups are represented in the school-age population (California Department of Education, 2020a).

  2. 2.

    To date we have reached 50,000 students and trained 1600 teachers.

  3. 3.

    TK stands for Transitional Kindergarten, which is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum. California’s TK program was established in 2010 (California Department of Education, 2020b). In a few of our partner school districts, preschool (PK) and TK classes are offered; however, all school districts that offer kindergarten, must also offer a TK program.

  4. 4.

    A Long-Term English Learner is a student who has been enrolled in school in the United States for more than six years and has not attained sufficient proficiency in English to be reclassified. These students incur major academic deficiencies.

  5. 5.

    This is what the model looked like pre-pandemic. We have shifted to virtual trainings for the time-being and are building out our infrastructure to permanently deliver our model through blended methods.

  6. 6.

    For an in-depth description of the SEAL model, including foundations, pillars and practices, see our publications: Preschool, TK-3, 4-6.

  7. 7.

    Structured English Immersion is a classroom setting for English learners in which nearly all classroom instruction is provided in English but with a curriculum and presentation designed for pupils who are learning English.

  8. 8.

    In 2012, California became the first state in the nation to establish a Seal of Biliteracy award to students who have attained proficiency in two or more languages at high school graduation.

  9. 9.

    Because of their greater baseline awareness of issues related to language and power, bilingual teachers tend to be excited about this work. However, while this work is perhaps even more crucial for Structured English Immersion (SEI) classrooms (where the vast majority of our DLLs/ELs are educated), that population of teachers tends to be a bit more resistant—or at least in greater need of background information and education. SEAL is in the process of building out these kinds of trainings for teachers of classrooms that are officially English Only.

  10. 10.

    “There are various definitions for “Testimonio,” a research methodology developed in Latin America, including a witness or first-person account created by someone who has faced instances of oppression or marginalization (Passos DeNicola et al., 2015).

  11. 11.

    Persona Dolls were created by the Pacific Oaks Anti-Bias Curriculum early childhood education project. This anti-bias curriculum has grown into an international movement—teachers in South Africa, for example, used persona dolls to help young children talk about race in the aftermath of apartheid. The dolls themselves are modeled after real children, and as such have a variety of skin colors, hair types and facial features that reflect a large variety of ethnicities.


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Meadvin, J. et al. (2022). Antilinguicist Schools, Antilinguicist Systems. In: Johnson, K.F., Sparkman-Key, N.M., Meca, A., Tarver, S.Z. (eds) Developing Anti-Racist Practices in the Helping Professions: Inclusive Theory, Pedagogy, and Application. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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