At least one Eastern Washington school district will benefit from a pilot program aimed at generating more bilingual teachers.
It could happen for Pasco students.
A final version of House Bill 1445 made its way through the Senate with a 45-4 vote on Wednesday.
The House still needs to agree to the final compromise, but it’s expected to pass.
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The compromise ended the dueling visions of how to increase the numbers of bilingual educators in school districts across the state, leaving the basics of a proposal supported by Ricardo Sánchez, who serves on the state’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs.
Sánchez envisioned connecting high schools with colleges to create a seamless transition for students wanting to become teachers.
He proposed recruiting students in Pasco, Quincy, Mount Vernon and Highline school districts when they are in high school. The students would receive state loans to pay for tuition, books and fees at a two-year, and then four-year college.
If the student returns to teach in the area of their Educational Service District, the loans would be forgiven.
The program is similar to one started in Burlington-Edison High School in the Skagit Valley that is successfully recruiting bilingual teachers, a reported published by the Professional Educators Standards Board said.
We plan to do all we can to ensure the four pilot projects can be implemented in the four districts where we’ve talked with school superintendents and college presidents.
Ricardo Sánchez, Commission on Hispanic Affairs
In the compromise bill, the minimum number of programs was trimmed from four to two, one on each side of the mountains. The Professional Educators Standards Board will have the final say on the programs that get approval.
“We plan to do all we can to ensure the four pilot projects can be implemented in the four districts where we’ve talked with school superintendents and college presidents,” Sánchez said.
Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, who sponsored the initial Senate proposal, said the legislation can’t name specific school districts.
While the bill eliminated Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self’s, D-Mukilteo, proposal to fund 10 $100,000 grants for programs aimed at recruiting bilingual community members to become teachers, it kept grant programs aimed at supporting increasing dual-language early childhood education and K-12 programs.
Ortiz-Self and Zeiger said they were happy with the compromise.
I’m really excited to see that our students have options. I’ve seen a lot of English language learners that have lost three or four years of their education.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo
“I’m really excited to see that our students have options,” Ortiz-Self said. “I’ve seen a lot of English-language learners that have lost three or four years of their education.”
The agreement is good for an increasingly diverse student population, and research shows students achieve more when they aren’t faced with understanding a second language to learn basic lessons, Zeiger said.
All of the pieces of the bill remain contingent on money being included in a state budget.
Zeiger and Ortiz-Self said money was included in the Senate and House budgets for the proposal, though they disagreed on the amount proposed for the programs.
Ortiz-Self said all of the programs shared $1.7 million in the Senate’s budget proposal and $2.3 million in the House version.
Zeiger said the numbers are closer to $1.3 million in the Senate’s proposal and $1.8 million in the House.
Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, was one of the four dissenting votes on the compromise bill. She didn’t respond to a request for comment.