While bilingual and dual language immersion programs are an increasingly important offering of many school districts, a shortage of bilingual teachers presents a constant challenge.
The result is that even in well planned programs, staff loss can cut deep, as districts scramble to keep the consistency for students.
“If we don’t have the teachers to staff these (programs), we’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Martha Martinez from the Oregon Department of Education’s equity team. “The districts that can afford to pay more are doing that.”
Some poaching of these skilled teachers from one district to another has occurred, as a result of the shortage.
The key is to hire teachers who have a through understand of both languages, complete with culture, literature, and academics. It goes beyond mere conversational Spanish, French, Russian, or Chinese. Efforts are underway to develop the skills of native English speakers, and remove barriers to certification for qualified individuals who are foreign born.