April 27, 2007

Torrico Aims to Improve Training For Preschool Teachers of LEP Children 

SACRAMENTO – Preschool teachers in California working with Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) students could receive improved training and career ladder opportunities as a result of a bill approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee recently.

AB 1052, authored by Assembly Member Alberto Torrico (D-Newark), would establish a pilot program to provide grants to institutions of higher education, early childhood educational agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide the training. The grants could be used for developing curricula, and for assistance with enrollment costs required to complete the teachers’ education.

Nearly half of California’s preschool children are Latino and 39 percent are English Language Learners. Seventy-five percent of all ELL children in California are Spanish-speaking.

“It is critical that we have a highly-qualified preschool workforce that reflects the diversity of the students,” Torrico said. “There is a lack of qualified Latino or bilingual staff serving this growing population and we need to make sure they are properly trained and remain in the field of early childhood education.  We need teachers with an expertise in serving ELL students.” 

A study by Policy Analysis for California Education found that staff with at least an associate’s degree tend to provide higher quality care than staff with less than an associate’s degree.

“Assemblyman Torrico’s bill will help provide the tens of thousands of California’s preschool age children who are in the process of learning English access to a well-trained, diverse teacher workforce which can prepare them for their first day of school,” said Janet Murguia, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, the bill’s sponsor.

Training in serving diverse children and families is critical for promoting effective parental involvement, a key quality indicator for preschool programs. However, such training for early childhood educators is often lacking. Few degree-granting institutions of higher education offer degree programs for early childhood education. This bill will increase the pool of highly-qualified instructors trained to work with ELL students.

AB 1052 is supported by Children Now, Preschool California, Parent Institute for Quality Education, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, and Kidango, among other organizations.

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