Los Angeles Times
Sunday, August 23, 1998
Few Bilingual Teachers Take Texas' Offer
By ERIKA CHAVEZ, Times Staff Writer
A Texas school district's drive to recruit bilingual teachers in Southern
California in the wake of Proposition 227's passage yielded few takers.
School officials spent three days in June
interviewing applicants in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties,
hoping to hire an estimated 20 bilingual and 25 English as a second language
Five teachers signed letters of commitment
during the recruitment drive, but only three have gone to Texas so far,
said Charlene Robertson, a spokeswoman for the Arlington Independent School
Still, some district officials were pleased
with the results.
"Our recruitment was quite successful,"
said Mac Bernd, superintendent of the Arlington Independent School District
since January. Bernd was the top official in the Newport-Mesa Unified School
District for four years before moving to Arlington, a quickly growing suburb
of Dallas and Fort Worth.
He said the idea of sending recruiters to
Southern California came to him while reading newspaper articles about
the passage of the controversial ballot measure, which has dismantled bilingual
instruction in California classrooms.
"Our school year began Aug. 11. The
teachers are in place, and all reports are good," Bernd said.
One of the apparent deterrents for potential
applicants, Bernd admits, was the issue of salary. In Arlington, teacher
salaries start at $26,900 a year, with an average annual salary of $33,304.
That is considerably less than the $32,000 starting salary of a Los Angeles
Unified School District teacher, where the average salary is nearly $46,000,
not including the $2,500 to $5,000 pay differential for bilingual teachers,
said Day Higuchi, president of United Teachers-Los Angeles.
"In Texas, qualified bilingual teachers
are extremely scarce," Bernd said. "If we got five teachers to
commit, the initiative really paid off. Some people saw it as a gamble,
but the results were worth it."
While Bernd said the timing of Proposition
227's passage brought the issue to a head this year, the district has not
ruled out future recruitment drives in the area.
"Southern California is certainly an
excellent source for sophisticated, qualified, well-trained and committed
There are 56,000 students in Arlington schools,
Bernd said, and Latino students make up 18% of the student population,
double the percentage of 10 years ago.
Arlington school officials also left applications
at many Southland schools, and have received many calls from teachers expressing
interest since the recruitment drive ended, said Julie Mayfield, director
of secondary personnel.