Dallas ISD Chief Hinojosa Says Bilingual Teachers ‘Protected’

Katherine Leal Unmuth, Dallas Morning News, October 22, 2008

Dallas schools superintendent Michael Hinojosa said today that bilingual teachers were largely protected from recent layoffs because of the district’s student population.

Students with limited proficiency in English now number 53,785 in the Dallas Independent School District, or 34 percent of total enrollment.

Some teachers complained after the district’s recent layoffs that bilingual teachers, and particular those recruited from other countries, were not impacted.

“Because of what the student needs are, they were protected,” Dr. Hinojosa said after delivering a speech on dual-language education at the Texas Association for Bilingual Education conference in Arlington.

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He noted special education teachers were also given special protection.

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In 2006, the district began a dual language programs in six schools, offering classes in which children are taught half the time in English, and half the time in Spanish.

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Gilda Alvarez Evans, the district’s director of multi-language enrichment programs, said before Dr. Hinojosa’s arrival, DISD professed to provide traditional bilingual education, but essentially offered “ESL [English as a second language] in costume,” with instruction essentially conducted in English.

Since 2006, the district has trained 664 bilingual teachers through its alternative certification training program. Many of them were recruited from abroad and are on work visas.

Dr. Hinojosa said there are “two-way” programs, in which there are native Spanish and English speakers mixed together, in 20 schools, and “one-way” programs with just Spanish speakers in 143 schools.

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