|Artist Hector Rodriguez|
I should additionally note that Dean Gasko is a former student of mine and graduate of the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership (formerly, the Department of Educational Administration) at the University of Texas at Austin. You make us very proud, John.
So the University of North Texas at Dallas is investing millions to build a bilingual teacher “superhighway” to train more of these badly needed educators through its Emerging Teachers Institute.
The institute is recruiting aggressively through grass-roots campaigns and now offers an accelerated pathway to a degree for some students.
That’s gotten the attention of Luis Borja, a Sunset High School freshman who already knows he wants to be a bilingual teacher. At just 15 years old, Luis recently attended a symposium organized by UNT-Dallas where he learned about a young Oak Cliff community activist who taught third grade at his old elementary school.
Luis can see himself doing the same. Growing up, he was frustrated for classmates who struggled to learn because there weren’t enough teachers who could speak to them in their native Spanish.
“Someone has to be the leader to help them get on their feet,” he said. “In elementary, I saw how some couldn’t communicate and had trouble speaking. I felt bad for them. How come there was no one to help them? How come no one could step up and be a leader for them?”
Texas has 1 million students who struggle with English. Even as the number of kids needing assistance has grown, the pool of qualified bilingual teachers has been shrinking sharply.