Schools continue to privilege students who speak standardized English, as schools uphold and prioritize standardized English as the only appropriate language for school settings (Boutte & Johnson, 2012).
If we (educators) are serious about changing educational outcomes for all children, particularly for children who have been historically marginalized and relegated to the margins, we must systematically rethink language and language instruction in K-12 schools as a part of such change (Boutte & Johnson, 2012; Perry & Delpit, 1998; Smitherman, 2006).
As language is a vital part of who we are as cultural beings, we can neither afford to dismiss linguistic variations nor view them as linguistic errors or defects that counter the dominant language of society and educational spaces (Smitherman, 2006). We must value and validate linguistic variations and make them a part of our instructional programs in schools (Kinloch, 2005 ). We must commit to rethinking language!
Students have the rights to their own language (NCTE, 2011). By acknowledging students' right to their own language, we rid ourselves of certain proclivities to frame their native languages as a problem that needs to be fixed (Lopez-Robertson, Long, & Turner- Nash, 2010). Moreover, when we acknowledge students' native language, we acknowledge their brilliance and we come to understand the power and cognitive benefits of being multilingual (Laman, 2013). We must commit to rethinking language!