Experts: Undocumented students could fill bilingual teacher shortage

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by DAVID SCHECHTER/WFAA-TV

kvue.com

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 9:10 PM

DALLAS — Educators say President Obama's decision to let children of undocumented immigrants work in the U.S. will have a major impact in North Texas classrooms, where 15 percent of bilingual and English as a Second Language jobs go unfilled.

Ramiro Luna has three semesters left until he gets his bilingual education degree. For this undocumented 29-year-old, the time can't pass quickly enough.

"I'm trying to find... articulate how good it feels to be able to give back freely,” Luna said.

Experts say Luna’s skills will be in high demand.

"These people are already trained to teach. They're already certified and ready," said Hector Flores, executive director of the Association of Hispanic School Administrators in Dallas. "They've already done their student teaching. Gives us another surplus of people we can go to.”

In fact, Flores said, undocumented but well-educated students like Luna will go from working in the shadows to being recruited by districts who pay a $5,000 signing bonus for bilingual teachers.

"It is definitely something that we are not used to," Luna said. "We're used to having to find any type of job and do anything we can possibly do."

For Ramiro Luna and his peers, those days are over.

And, perhaps, so are the days when districts had to recruit teachers to come from Mexico to teach in local schools.

Critics of Obama's executive action say by taking unilateral action and bypassing Congress, the president makes it more difficult to reach a comprehensive immigration solution.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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