Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Delaware Latino Activists Seek State Dollars for Bilingual Teachers

Source: Flickr/ via U.S. Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

Coming off a successful initiative to get legal driving privileges for undocumented immigrants in Delaware, a Latino activist group in the first state has now turned its attention to education.

“One of the things that is extremely important is the need for teachers in our schools that are bilingual and that are culturally competent,” Delaware Hispanic Commission Chairman Javier Torrijos said recently, The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware reports

The group doesn’t just want teachers who speak Spanish, but rather more teachers who are certified to teach English-language learners, who make up 6 percent of public school students in the state. Only about one in seven of those students scored “proficient” in reading or math on the state’s Smarter Balanced Assessment test this year. 

Of the more than 5 million children in U.S. public schools identified as English-language learners, approximately 80 percent are Hispanic. The education of these students has sparked two recent sets of federal guidelines, including instructions for hiring bilingual teachers who are trained in strategies for educating English learners. 

Speaking primarily in Spanish to attendees of the Hispanic Commission’s second annual Latino Summit last Thursday, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said he supported hiring more qualified bilingual teachers to educate ELLs, a population that has seen “extraordinary growth,” Esteban Parra writes for The News Journal. 

The commission also has broader goals in store for the 80,000 Latinos in the state, about 8 percent of Delaware’s total population. The group is also focusing on educating Latinos on such topics as health, housing and economic development. 

“Latinos want the American Dream,” Torrijos said, explaining the group’s motivation fueling the group’s initiatives. “They want to be part of that.”