Senate Bill 897, relating to English as a Second Language programs, will have a public hearing before the Oregon Senate Committee on Eduction on 3/26/15. I have submitted the following public testimony:
Chair Roblan and members of the Senate Education Committee,
Please amend SB 897 by adding:
Section 6 (2) (d) Providing dual language immersion teacher training and licensing programs operated by school districts.
There is an enormous need for additional dual language immersion programs in Oregon for both English as a Second Language students and for English native students wishing to learn a foreign language. Expanding dual language immersion programs is now limited by the shortage of dual language immersion teachers. Oregon schools of education, both public and private, are neither producing the needed dual language immersion teachers nor the needed teachers of color needed to staff such programs. Alternative teacher training programs need to be established at the local school district level. Funding for such local school district dual language immersion teacher training programs should be authorized by SB 897.
Looking at the enormous need for more Spanish dual language immersion programs, note that there are ten Oregon school districts with more than one thousand Hispanics that have no dual language immersion programs.
And that within those ten school districts, there are fourteen individual schools, each with a majority (more than 50%) of Hispanic students but without a Spanish dual language immersion program.
Note, as for English native students wanting to learn a foreign language, that Oregon is way behind Utah in developing a multilingual workforce capable of competing in the global economy.
Portland Public Schools' Department of Dual Language reported to the PPS Board on 1/20/15 that it would not recommend wanted and needed additional Spanish, Mandarin or Japanese dual language immersion programs for next year primarily because of a shortage of bilingual teachers. Here is a chart from their presentation:
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Board of Education are engaging the issue of "How do we address the critical shortage of highly qualified bilingual teachers in Oregon?" On 12/11/14, ODE Education Equity staffer Martha Martinez reported to the Board on her survey of Oregon school districts as to their problems recruiting bilingual teachers. In her survey, she found that 80% of the 24 districts with bilingual programs surveyed indicated they had difficulties filling their bilingual teacher vacancies in 2014-15.
Many more dual language immersion teachers are needed in Oregon. The goals for dual language immersion programs statewide should be: (a) that every Emergent Bilingual (English language learner) who would benefit from a dual language immersion program should be in a dual language immersion program. And (b) that every kindergartener whose parents want their student to attend a dual language immersion program should find a slot in a dual language immersion program.
Oregon will need thousands more dual language immersion teachers in a broad variety of foreign languages to meet those goals.
Too few teachers of color:
Portland Public Schools cannot recruit enough teachers of color:
Portland Public Schools failed badly in a recent effort to reach its goal of having 44% of its teachers as teachers of color (to reflect its student enrollment). In 2013-14, PPS had about 16.5% teachers of color. In hiring 497 new teachers for 2014-15, only 22% were teachers of color, which will lift their teachers of color to 17.3%.
Statewide, still too few teachers of color:
The Oregon Education Investment Board considered the interim 2014 Oregon Minority Teacher Act Status Report at their December 9, 2014, meeting. The full Minority Teacher Report will not be finished until later this year. So far...
What Oregon teacher preparation programs now produce:
A key find finding of the report is that:
As of 2014, Oregon is not on track to meet the 2015 goal of increasing the percentage of minority teachers employed by school districts and education services districts by 10% as compared to July 2, 2012. The 2013-14 data reveal that the number of culturally and linguistically diverse teachers employed in Oregon public schools only increased by ten to 2,401 (8.46% of the employed teacher workforce). The reduction may be in part due to reductions in staff in recent years
Summary: Oregon's public teacher preparation programs are not producing teachers with the foreign language skills and racial characteristic needed by Oregon schools. Big changes are needed. With the cooperation of the Board of Education and the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, alternative dual language immersion teacher training programs need to be established and funded at local school districts.