IAO leery about BOE certification pitch for CNMI bilingual teachers

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The Board of Education has proposed an alternate set of prerequisites for bilingual teachers, but the Indigenous Affairs Office believes the compromise is still not enough to fill the shortage of bilingual instructors in the Commonwealth.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, IAO program manager Crispin Ogo said the BOE proposal is good but is still unattainable for many potential instructors in the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian languages.

The compromise for a basic indigenous language instructor no longer requires an applicant to pass any Praxis exams, but they must meet three sets of prerequisites.

The first set requires an applicant to have at least three college credits, a high school diploma, and at least two years of work experience.

If an applicant does not meet the first set of requirements, the second set requires a high school diploma, a certification from the BOE-appointed advisory panel, and at least three years related experience.

If the first two sets of requirements are not met by the applicant, he or she needs a high school diploma, a certification from the advisory panel, and a professional portfolio in Chamorro or Carolinian content.

According to Ogo, the IAO believes that these prerequisites are still unattainable for many Chamorros or Carolinians who want to teach the language.

Ogo said a lot of Chamorro and Carolinians who are proficient in these languages do not have college credits at all, have no teaching experience, or have no background in professional cultural practices like singing, dancing, or crafts.

Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, who supports the IAO stance, said it is important that the shortage of bilingual teachers be addressed for the sake of future generations.

A public hearing will be held for community members to submit their comments on the proposed alternative certification process. The next public hearing will be on Nov. 6 at the Dandan Elementary School cafeteria, from 5pm to 6pm.

The Tuesday news briefing was also attended by the Language Policy Commission and Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council.

Over a month ago, a disagreement sprung between BOE and the advocates of the alternate bilingual instructor certification process. Advocates included the principal executives of the Office of Indigenous Affairs, the Office of Carolinian Affairs, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, and the Language Policy Commission.

On Sept. 20, IAO resident executive Roman Tudela, CAO executive assistant John Tagabuel, and DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter signed a memorandum of agreement where they agreed that an alternative certification process should be put into play to address the shortage of bilingual instructors.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, BOE member Herman Guerrero is not keen on an alternate certification process, but is open to a discussion with the advocates.

On Sept. 28, the BOE met with IAO and came up with a proposal on Oct. 6 to establish a compromise between the BOE and the advocates on the alternate bilingual instructor certification.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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