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Introduced by   Senator Dunne of Windsor District

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Education; international education; council on international education; revolving loan fund; state board of education; minimum course of study; study abroad; appropriation

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to create a council on international education to encourage teaching of geography, history, economics, culture, arts, and languages of other world regions in Vermont public schools; to direct the state board of education to encourage teaching of international education and foreign languages; to include teaching of international knowledge and foreign languages in the minimum course of study; to stipulate that a school district shall pay for up to a year of study abroad for a student in grades 7 - 12; to appropriate $250,000.00 to a revolving loan fund for encouragement of international education; and to appropriate funds to support the work of the council on international education.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


(a)  The general assembly declares that it is a state priority that educators help young Vermonters to become responsible and competent global citizens because:

(1)  Many of today’s youth will work in businesses, services, and industries that are global in their reach.  Therefore, it will be critical for the business and political workers of the future to be comfortable conversing and working in other countries.

(2)  The United States is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse.  By the middle of the 21st century, the groups that now comprise the minority population, taken together, will become the majority, and workers of the future will interact daily with people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

(3)  If democracy is to survive, it will be vital that the next generation is able to understand, respect, and work with people from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds in order to govern itself.

(4)  National security considerations require a citizenry that can communicate with and understand people from other cultures.

(b)  The general assembly also finds that in order to become responsible global citizens, it will be important that young Vermonters are exposed to foreign languages at an early age and continue to study languages throughout their public school careers because:

(1)  Studies have shown that students who study foreign languages for four or five years score higher on standardized verbal, mathematic, literacy, and vocabulary development tests. 

(2)  Numerous studies suggest a young child can learn a foreign language faster or better than an older child or adult because of the way the brain develops in humans, and that the best way to teach a language is to expose a person to the language at a very young age and to follow early exposure with more sophisticated training as the child matures. 

(3)  Learning a language is the best way to understand another culture.

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(33) is added to read:

(33)  “International education” means the study of geography, history, economics, culture, arts, and languages of other world regions.
Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. chapter 1, subchapter 6B is added to read:

Subchapter 6B.  Council on International Education


(a)  In order to coordinate, aid, and encourage schools, organizations, and teachers to teach international knowledge and skills for the purpose of preparing high school graduates to work and live in an increasingly diverse and interdependent world, the Vermont council on international education is created.   

(b)  The council shall be composed of two people appointed by the governor and who serve at the pleasure of the governor; two legislators each to serve during the biennium of appointment, one chosen by the speaker of the house and one chosen by the committee on committees; two education leaders chosen by the state board of education who shall serve two-year terms; and the commissioner of education.  The council shall receive staff and administrative services from the department of education.


(a)  It shall be the goal of the council:

(1)  to create a climate which ensures that every Vermont child is exposed to international education, including foreign language training at the early primary school level, and is able to spend time in another country; and

(2)  to ensure that Vermont educators have the tools, knowledge, and information they need to provide excellent and effective international education to Vermont students.

(b)  The council may:

(1)  enter into contracts for the purpose of developing international education curricula and developing strategies that further its goal;

(2)  gather and disseminate information about the best ways to conduct international education;

(3)  work with the state board to help further the goals of this section;

(4)  apply for and manage grants from private foundations and individuals;

(5)  manage the revolving loan fund established in section 129b of this title; and

(6)  conduct other activities to further the goals of this section.

(c)  The council is designated as the state agency to apply for and receive state and federal funds designated for international education.

(d)  Annually, on or before October 1, the council shall submit to the governor and the general assembly a report summarizing its activities and making recommendations it deems appropriate.


(a)  There is established for the council a revolving loan fund of $250,000.00 which the council may use to enable schools, organizations, or teachers to:

(1)  purchase supplies useful in providing an international course of study;

(2)  develop, provide, or engage in professional development for teachers in the area of international education; or

(3)  assist in international student exchange programs.

(b)  Funds may be lent under terms and conditions of repayment as the council directs, and the council may adjust or forgive any amount owed to the fund.  The council shall repay all amounts forgiven from any general appropriation.

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 164(20) is added to read:

(20)  Seek ways to encourage integration of international education and learning of foreign languages into the public school curricula.

Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 906(b) is amended to read:

(b)  For purposes of this title, the minimum course of study means learning experiences adapted to a pupil’s age and ability in the fields of:

(1)  Basic communication skills, including reading, writing, and the use of numbers, and a foreign language;

(2)  Citizenship, history, international education and government in Vermont and, the United States, and the world;

(3)  Physical education and comprehensive health education, including the effects of tobacco, alcoholic drinks, and drugs on the human system and on society;

(4)  English, American, and other world literature;

(5)  The natural sciences; and

(6)  The fine arts.

Sec. 6.  16 V.S.A. § 912 is added to read:


(a)  It is the intent of the general assembly that every Vermont secondary student shall have the opportunity to live and study in a foreign country.

(b)  A school district shall pay an amount up to the average announced tuition of Vermont union secondary schools for an enrolled student to spend up to one year in a foreign country studying through a program approved by the commissioner.  The amount paid shall be no more than the amount charged for the program and shall be prorated for a student who spends less than a year studying abroad.

(c)  A study abroad program accepting funds under this section shall charge no more than the average announced tuition for Vermont union secondary schools for one year of study abroad to a student enrolled in its program under this section.

(d)  No student shall be entitled to spend more than one year studying abroad under this section.  However, a school board may pay for more than one year of study abroad if it chooses.

(e)  The state board shall adopt rules for implementation of this section including a rule describing what may be included in charges paid for under this section.


(a)  The amount of  $250,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the revolving loan fund created in Sec. 3 (16 V.S.A. § 129b) of this act.

(b)  The amount of $40,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the commissioner of education to be used as directed by the council on international education to support activities of the council.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont