North Texas schools have faced a shortage of bilingual teachers for years and the push to find ways to recruit and retain the best in education continues.
“We have 87 bilingual teacher vacancies in our district,” said Stephanie Elizalde, Dallas Independent School District's chief of school leadership. “So, knowing that this is now October and we are still in need of bilingual educators is the reason there is always room for us to have different types of partnerships to recruit more bilingual educators.”
This week, educators from around Texas are gathering in Dallas for the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) 46th annual state conference. Educators will discuss the shortage and finding a solution.
"Education is not a cost, it's an investment," said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner. "The student population in Texas is growing ever more diverse. In fact, we often say the demographics aren't changing, they've already changed."
In Texas, Hispanic students account for the largest percentage of enrollment at 52 percent and almost 20 percent identify as “English-language learners.”
“All students for all different backgrounds benefit when they can see more and more folks who look like [and] sound like them and are able to relate to them,” Elizalde said. “So, the readability is almost more important in some instances that the title of bilingual educator or bilingual teacher.”
Thursday, school superintendents from across North Texas will take center stage at the conference for a panel about diminishing state resources.
"There's 58 different dialects in our district," said Garland ISD Superintendent Dr. Ricardo Lopez. "When you provide an academic system where everybody from the teachers to the students feels valued, you have less retention problems."
NBC 5 Reporter Noelle Walker also contributed to this report.