Friday, March 2, 2012

McElrath: Teachers should speak Spanish

Schools that serve large numbers of Spanish-speaking students should have Spanish-speaking teachers,   Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Richard McElrath said this week.

His comments came Tuesday night, after teachers talked about their efforts to craft ways to evaluate and encourage better work.  One group studied "hard to staff" schools, and Sue Varga, a Quail Hollow Middle School teacher on temporary assignment with the CMS talent effectiveness project,  said one thing that can make a school challenging is when many students haven't mastered English.

"We shouldn't have schools where most teachers don't speak the language of many of the students,"  said McElrath,  a former teacher.  He insisted that teachers are not effective if they can't speak their students' language.

Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said CMS students come from homes where many languages are spoken, not just Spanish. He said teachers use a technique designed to communicate with all of them without having to speak their languages:  "The concept here is we're teaching children English."

McElrath said Thursday that he still believes students deserve to be taught by a teacher who speaks their language,  but he has not made a proposal for CMS to require or recruit such teachers.

View the discussion here, in the Feb. 28 video.

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