Bilingual Teacher Shortage Affecting Texas

Language flashcards
Language flashcards | Image by Eiko Tsuchiya/Shutterstock

Unlawful migration into the United States has prompted high unmet demand for bilingual teachers.

Without sufficient language support, the children of such families may struggle to integrate and succeed in the classroom, reported CBS News Texas.

Texans for Strong Borders released a statement in July claiming that in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, an estimated 25% of students attending public schools are unlawful migrants. Additionally, the organization claimed that about 7.5% of the total population of Texas, which stands at 30 million, consists of unlawful migrants. The organization did not explain how it arrived at either of these figures in its report.

Still, a report by the U.S. Department of Education found a shortage of bilingual educators in over half the United States — allegedly due to low pay and certification issues, according to CBS.

The Texas Education Agency offers assistance to districts and educators, awarding taxpayer-funded “formula and discretionary grants” that are authorized through federal and state legislation, including the 2023-2024 Texas Migrant Interstate Program.

The program aims to improve graduation and retention rates of “migratory secondary students by facilitating interstate coordination efforts among all the contiguous states to which Texas migrant students travel and to provide technical assistance to migrant education programs that serve Texas home-based students by coordinating the exchange of critical student information between home base and receiving schools.”

Despite the growing problem, Texas has been taking measures to tackle the shortage of bilingual teachers, including offering incentives to attract more teachers into the field.

In the Houston region alone, data shows that about 85% of the school districts offer stipends for bilingual teachers to address the shortage, as reported by the Houston Chronicle, with several of these school districts currently offering incentives of up to $8,000 to attract qualified bilingual teachers to their institutions.

Despite incentives, the teacher shortage persists, at least in part due to the influx of migrant children. In response, Dallas ISD decided to look internationally for qualified bilingual teachers in Panama, Mexico, and Puerto Rico for the 2023-2024 teacher recruitment season.

“It drives us to explore other markets in countries such as Panama, where educators are bilingual and biliterate, which is an area that our school district needs, specifically in the dual language program,” said Diana Castañeda, Dallas ISD’s manager of the Recruitment Department, according to the Dallas ISD News Hub website. “Knowing that we have one of the largest dual language programs in the nation, it is important for us to sustain and meet those needs of the students so they can continue to have successful outcomes.”

According to Dallas ISD’s latest Texas Education Agency accountability report, only 41% of students scored at grade level on their STAAR exams, and almost 20% of its graduating Class of 2022 did not earn a diploma in four years despite the hard work of the district’s educators.

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