I have been concerned that Oregon’s higher education institutions are not producing the Mandarin dual-language immersion teachers needed now or in the future. So “thank you” to Representative Huffman for asking the above question in the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee hearing on “Educator Preparation.” However, we still do not know if the numbers produced are sufficient. Nor do we know if the Chinese nationals trained at George Fox Univeristy have the appropriate immigration status to be able to stay and teach in Orgon.
1. The lack of dual language immersion teachers is holding back development of needed immersion program. For example, last year, in the Portland Public Schools Spring 2012 tranfer lotteries to get into the dual language immersion kindergartens programs for 2012-13, 892 parents/students applied for 432 openings. Given that a few programs had more openings than applicants, 495 students were turned away. Given 4,277 kindergarteners in Portland Public Schools, the 892 immersion program applicants equal 20.9% of the 4,277 kindergarteners. The 432 who got into immersion programs represent 10.1% of the 4,277 kindergarteners. 11.6% were turned away (in part because of a lack of immersion teachers). Plus there is at least another 12% of English-as-a-Second-Language kindergarteners, mostly Spanish speaking, who would have benefited from being in a dual-language immersion program but did not apply. Thus at least a one-third, 33%, of PPS kindergarteners wanted or needed dual-language immersion programs. PPS was able to serve only 10%, turning the rest away, in part because of a lack of dual-language immersion teachers.
For more detail, see here.
2. Utah is adding 15-20 dual-language immersion program per year. Like Oregon, Utah is pursuing educational reform. Two-thirds of Utah’s efforts are similar to Oregon’s. Like Oregon’s 40-40-20 goals, Utah has a goal of getting 66% of its citizens with some form of post-secondary education by 2020. And like Oregon, Utah wants more STEM educated workers. But Utah has a third component that Oregon lacks and should add. Utah, wanting to develop a multilingual workforce, has added 100 dual-language immersion programs (25 Mandarin) over the past five years and plans to add 15-20 more per year going forward. Utah views having a multilingual workforce as a competitive advantage in economic development.
For Oregon to add 25 K-5 Mandarin immersion programs would require at least an additional 150 Mandarin immersion teachers. Can the teacher preparation institutions in Oregon produce them?For those unfamiliar with Utah’s expansion of dual-language immersion program, Utah has produced an 11 minute youtube overview. Here it is again: