It really helps that I’m bilingual 2017-03-22T16:02:11+00:00

Bargaining Priority

Increase training and education opportunities to grow more teachers and other staff from our local communities

“It really helps that I’m bilingual.”

Maria Preciado is a Teacher’s Assistant at Sara Coughlin Elementary School in Pacoima. She’s worked for the District for a total of about 11 years while going to school to become a Teacher.

“Eventually, I want to teach Kindergarten or First Grade,” says Maria. “I was inspired by my kindergarten teacher at Gridley Elementary in San Fernando. I loved going to school when I was a little girl and it was all because of her. She made learning fun for us. She’d greet each of us by name every morning. She made sure we knew how important it was that we were there in her classroom. I’ve wanted to be a teacher ever since.”

Before she became a citizen last year, Maria was a “Dreamer.” Although an older sister was born here, she was born in Mexico and moved to the states when she was two. Her father always pushed her to go to college, first in computer drafting at a technical college, then back to her original dream at California State University, Northridge, where she received her B.A.

Maria wishes that LAUSD still offered its full Career Ladder program for T.A.s trying to get their teaching credential. She needs the test preparation assistance that they used to offer.

In the meantime, Maria loves what she does. She notices that even though she’s the one helping the children learn, a day never goes by when she doesn’t learn something, too, about how to help the children develop.

“We have this one little girl who started the year very shy. She barely interacted with the other children. It really helps that I’m bilingual, though, because I can get her to laugh—and when I speak Spanish, I can see her start to feel more comfortable. It sort of breaks down the barrier to English because once a child feels comfortable, they will start to use their second language. I just start using little words here and there. The other day it was so fun to see her being expressive during some imaginative playtime where they act out parts. She seemed confident and was using English saying little things like ‘I like your hair’ and ‘you are my friend’—I mean, it’s a little choppy, but she’s making herself understood in English. I thought to myself ‘wow, this little girl is getting somewhere!’”

Why a more effective, diverse, and local workforce matters

  • In 2011, three-quarters of Los Angeles public school students were Hispanic, making the Hispanic share of the city’s students roughly twice as large as its Hispanic teachers.1
  • In addition to providing social advantages for all students, the racial diversity of the teaching workforce can help to close the achievement gap.2
  • Teachers in the District’s Career Ladder programs are more effective in increasing student proficiency in math than teachers in their first year of teaching. The program’s benefit to students is the equivalent of more than a month of additional learning.3
  • There is added value in employing teachers who reflect the changing demographics of Los Angeles and who are from the community…there is currently a shortage of bilingual, mathematics, science, and special education teachers, and this shortage is expected to grow.4
1 The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education, Albert Shanker Institute, September 2015
2 The State of Educator Diversity in the Educator Workforce, U.S. Dept of Education, July 2016
3 The LAUSD Human Capital Diagnostic, Strategic Data Project, Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, November 2012
4 LAUSD School Board Resolution: Developing Tomorrow’s Teachers through Expanding the Paraedcuator Career Ladder, December 2, 2014