Help wanted: Bilingual teachers for California schools

LOS ANGELES – While the Californians passed a ballot measure to bring back bilingual education in the new school year teachers say it is a challenge to the program is started, you will find more bilingual teachers.

Almost two decades after the ban on most bilingual education, Californians voted in November to allow schools to recover for both students of English and English speakers whose parents want them to learn Spanish, Mandarin, and other languages to compete globally in the labour market.

Teachers say the growing interest in bilingual programs will boost the already high demand for teachers trained and qualified to teach the classes. Schools that already have such programs in California and other states, including Utah and Oregon have placed teachers on the visa of the foreign country to meet the need.

“There is already a shortage of bilingual teachers with the question we have now,” said Joshua Speaks, a spokesman for the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing.

The overwhelming majority in favor of the Proposition 58 is a reversal of the resistance to bilingual education after a surge in immigration to California in the 1990s. Since then, some schools have started a bilingual program, but the parents of the English students had to sign of the annual exemptions for their children to participate, and the many neighborhoods saw on the paperwork.

Since the measure passed, and with 73.5 percent of the vote — a lot of schools is expected to expand bilingual facilities, or the start of new programs. One of the most popular models are the so-called dual language immersion programs mix English learners and English speakers in the class and the split of instruction in the time between the English and any other language.

It is the Ministry of Education estimates California currently has at least 350 dual language immersion programs, but the vast majority of the state’s 1.4 million English students are currently taught using English immersion. Robert Oakes, a department spokesman could not say how many districts start bilingual programs, but expect a lot of will.

“There is a hope and expectation there will be a large expansion,” he said.

California is already facing a teacher shortage after the economic recession. Areas where teachers are needed most, such as special education, science, and bilingual education, Speaks said.

To obtain a permit to teach bilingual classes, teachers should take additional courses and pass additional exams. In the 2014-15 year, the state issued approximately 400 bilingual authorizations, Speaks said.

Cristina Alfaro, a professor of dual language and English learner education at San Diego State University, said that her program annually graduates approximately 60 bilingual teachers.

“We don’t even identify enough to meet the demand for San Diego, and we have a lot of people from out of state and in the state that you call us,” she said. “My phone rings off the hook.”

The lack of bilingual classrooms in California in the last two decades, especially in high school, has contributed to the lack of bilingual teachers, said Nicole Knight, director of the English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement in Oakland Unified.

“We can’t grow our own if we don’t develop our skills,” she said. “Just because they are graduates and they speak Spanish at home does not mean that they have the academic level of Spanish that will enable them to teach in that setting.”

To meet the demand, school districts have looked abroad. Los Angeles Unified, which has more than 500 teachers in dual language immersion programs, brought nine teachers and two support staff on visas for Mandarin programs, said Barbara Jones, a district spokeswoman. In Oakland Unified, the district brought a visit to the teachers from Mexico and Spain.

With the passage of Proposition 58, efforts are made to reach bilingual teachers of the 1990s, which is now in English-only classrooms and are given updated training, so that they can switch to. Recruiters are also looking for candidates entering bilingual education programs, especially among the high school graduates that a state seal of biliteracy.

California began the awarding of the high school graduates who demonstrate proficiency in a language other that the state seal in 2012. Since then, many other states have adopted a similar program.

Alfaro said of her university program will grow to more teachers if more students register, they expect that could happen if the labour market increases.

Bilingual education supporters say that they expect the school districts in California will spend the next year of plan as it takes at least a year to a dual language immersion program.

“Twenty years ago, bilingual programs have sprouted overnight, and not on the basis that they needed to really deliver on a high quality of the program,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, executive director of the Californians who supported the ballot measure. “We want to encourage districts to take their time.”

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