In an effort to overcome a statewide shortage of bilingual teachers, California has earmarked $5 million from this year’s state budget to support the Bilingual Professional Development Program. With the passage of Proposition 58, which goes into effect July 1, bilingual education in the state of California is only expected to grow.
Proposition 58 puts an end to a bilingual education ban that has been in effect in the state for almost 20 years. Under this new law, school districts have greater flexibility to incorporate bilingual courses into their curriculum. Prior to this, English learners weren’t allowed to participate in bilingual/dual language classes unless they were given permission by their parents. This greatly restricted their ability to study alternative languages in the classroom.
A survey of over 100 California districts conducted by “Californians Together” — a firm advocate of English learners — revealed that 58% planned to expand their bilingual language programs. This expansion comes amidst reports that 86% of these districts expected to experience a teacher shortage.
Our private Spanish tutors have been aware of these issues for some time. According to Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, director of “Californians Together,” the state faces a shortage of bilingual teachers due to districts lacking qualified teachers for programs they want to put into effect and teachers who are qualified needing additional training to confidently manage bilingual classrooms.
Under California law, bilingual teachers must have special credentials, i.e. bilingual authorization, to teach subjects in English and an alternative language. According to “Californians Together,” only 700 authorizations were dispensed to teachers in 2015-16. In their survey of 100+ districts, the coalition discovered a total of 8,560 teachers with bilingual authorizations. Of these, 6,000 taught English only classes due to restrictions on bilingual education.
“In terms of the professional development, these teachers have been in English-only classes for 10, some 15, years and a lot has changed in terms of pedagogy, curriculum (and) instructional materials in that time,” states Coleman. “Teachers need to be a part of professional development so they can become current…”
At present, there are approximately 1.4 million English learners in California that can benefit from dual language programs. The goal of bilingual education is for students to learn how to speak, read and write in the alternative language they are studying.
The $5 million allotted to the Bilingual Professional Development Program will come from a total of $41.3 million allocated towards teacher recruitment, preparation and professional development in this year’s state budget. The program will target two groups of professionals: certified bilingual teachers who require additional training before returning to bilingual classrooms and bilingual instructional assistants who desire to teach in multiple language classrooms.
In addition to state funding, districts can seek financial support from alternative sources to train bilingual teachers. Schools with a high population of English learner pupils can receive funds from the Local Control Funding Formula for the professional development of bilingual teachers to meet the needs of their student body.
Under California law, districts are required to discuss plans they may have for initiating new programs with parents and community members in their area. Parents and communities can therefore influence the development of bilingual programs in local schools by expressing their desire for this education.
If your student is having trouble with language, call us today to see how our foreign language tutors can help your child catch up, keep up, and move ahead.