Few Bilingual, ESL Teachers in Illinois Preschools - Univision Chicago

Latinos accounted for three in five new workers in the regional workforce over the last decade—a number that is set to grow as a large cohort of preschool-age Latinos comes of age over the next decade. But as a new mandate designed to develop bilingual skills in these young learners is set to go into effect, the Illinois early childhood education (ECE) workforce is scrambling to comply, and yet largely uninterested in seeking additional linguistic credentials, according to study results released today.

The study, conducted by UC Berkeley as part of its New Journalism on Latino Children project, is indicative of two disparate national trends: State boards of education embracing the importance of quality ECE for young learners as they struggle to define what constitutes quality in the face of increasing diversity in classrooms across the country. Latinos now account for nearly a quarter of students in Illinois classrooms and one-in-four Illinois children under the age of five. A third of this young, growing Latino student body is an English Language Learner (ELL).

Key Survey Findings
• Less than 6% of the early childhood workforce has training to work with Illinois’ growing cohort of English-Language Learners.
• For programs in Latino communities, the ratio of young ELL students to teachers with bilingual training is 50:1.
• Administrators report that fewer than 25% of teachers are interested in pursuing qualifications for working with diverse language communities.

Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum, was interviewed in this piece. A research brief with full study results is available at www.latinoedbeat.org/research/

About New Journalism on Latino Children
The New Journalism on Latino Children (NJLC) project unites top researchers, journalists and local thought leaders in enriching civic understanding and media coverage of how Latino families can be better served by Metro Chicago’s emerging early childhood education system. NJLC is led by the University of California’s National Panel on Latino Children and Schooling and supported by the Education Writers Association and the Chicago-based Latino Policy Forum, with funding from the McCormick Foundation.

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