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Education

Oklahoma City Public Schools Seeks Teachers Fluent In Spanish, Vietnamese Or Burmese

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Leonardo Toshiro Okubo / Unsplash
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Oklahoma City Public Schools is offering a $3,000 stipend for teachers who speak the most common second languages in its classrooms.

The one-time stipend is for candidates who are licensed to teach and can pass a fluency exam in Spanish, Vietnamese or Burmese.

OKCPS has 14,500 students who primarily speak Spanish in the home, as well as 214 who speak Vietnamese and 108 who speak Burmese.

Having teachers who can speak those students’ languages is important, Assistant superintendent Jason Brown said.

“We just feel like it benefits our students in a wide variety of ways,” he said.

Students and teachers can build a relationship and rapport in the second language, which helps students develop and learn better, he said. It’s good for English-speaking students too.

“We want to make sure that our students have a real world exposure to what the rest of our globe looks like. And so to have access to teachers who speak more than one language is... a benefit to all of our students,” he said.

The district has more than 200 teaching jobs to fill and is offering a stackable $1,500 stipend for math, science and special education teachers to work in the district.

The stipends will primarily be paid with federal COVID-19 relief money. OKCPS will receive more than $164 million from the American Rescue Plan alone. And Brown said the stipends - in addition to OKCPS having the highest average salary for teachers in the state - will ensure the district has talented teachers.

The rounded, holistic strategy to recruiting teachers is important for ensuring students get the best education, Brown said. He added it will also help with retaining the teachers the district already has.

“It's hard work teaching,” Brown said. “It's even harder work when you have a rotating vacancy or a vacancy next door to you.”

OKCPS’ losses of teachers over the course of the pandemic were actually lower than anticipated, Brown said. In a typical year, the district is trying to fill far more vacancies. But that reflects a statewide trend of lower turnover in the teacher workforce across Oklahoma.

For more information on teaching at OKCPS visit their website.

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