Annual Hispanic report addresses a need to attract more bilingual teachers/staff in Idaho’s schools

Posted at 11:13 PM, Feb 22, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — A new report shows Hispanic students are outpacing the number of Hispanic teachers and staff in Idaho's public education system.

On February 17, the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs presented an annual report showing the impact the state’s Hispanic population has on the economy, healthcare, education.

One of the highlights in the 2021 data book showed Hispanic students made up 18 percent of K-12 grade education enrollment for 2019-2020, but Hispanic teachers and personnel made up only three percent.

“To me, that is really clear a call to every college and university in this state that we need bilingual/bicultural teachers,” said Priscilla Salant, the lead author for the 2021 Hispanic Profile Data Book of Idaho.

The report addresses some challenges the Hispanic population could be facing, such as the demand for more bilingual teachers and staff in Idaho's schools.

“The demand for employers is certainly there. I would like to see higher Ed work on training more teachers for Hispanic communities," Salant said.

Cristina Medrano is a bilingual school counselor in Canyon County who often helps interpret Spanish-speaking parents.

“I don’t mind, but I could be checking in with students, or I could be doing a lesson and sometimes I would have to stop what I’m doing so I can interpret because there’s nobody else who can do it,” Medrano said.

Medrano believes it would have to be at a state level to work on attracting more bilingual teachers and staff.

“The funding needs to be there so that they can afford bilingual people. People don’t make a lot of money working in schools, unfortunately,” Medrano said.

Medrano further explained there should also be training on cultural awareness for administrators, teachers, or school employees.

Salant says funds could be invested in racial equity training to gain more bilingual people.

“You see million dollars going to train law students who can work in racial equity issues, in southern states in particular. I think we need really bold initiatives like that to up the number of bilingual/bicultural teachers in the state,” Salant said.

On February 19, ICHA posted on Facebook that it had presented the annual data book to Gov. Brad Little and discussed bringing in more bilingual/bicultural teachers to the Gem State.