The Public School System has come up with a list of alternative certification requirements to address the professional development support that indigenous language instructors need for them to qualify as instructors and ultimately address the shortage of bilingual educators in the CNMI.
Education Commissioner Cynthia Deleon Guerrero said that one of the concerns of Chamorro and Carolinian Language and Heritage Studies teachers is that many of them are certified but remain at Instructor 1 level because they have yet to complete the requirements needed as Instructor 2.
“They continue to hold Instructor 1 certification level because they have yet to complete the orthography and other requirements to move up to the Instructor 2 level,” she said.
“We are working on a proposal to the advisory panel of the board to…issue a certification to these individuals that they have been trained and have attended all these professional developments. They just haven’t completed the more rigorous courses that are points toward to a specific content,” she added.
Deleon Guerrero also understands that if the board removes the more rigorous courses to reach Instructor 2 level, this would leave a lot of current instructors outside of the realm of certification, which mean that they would be re-classified as teacher aide.
“That is why the recommendation supported by the committee is to propose to the board to develop an advisory panel to assist these individuals in this category,” she said.
Deleon Guerrero hopes that the advisory panel will look at what courses and professional developments the instructors in level 1 have taken and make a determination as they move toward taking other courses such as orthography and classroom management and other multi-culture education courses.
BOE member Herman Guerrero said the board must have a list of these qualified individuals.
“I did request that we identify these individuals in the community. We can ascertain their mastery level. These are the people we can say are experts in language, culture, and heritage of CNMI. I asked for the list so we can look at them as resource people that the system can tap,” he said.
Guerrero also proposed mentors for the CCHLS instructors. “These mentors can help the instructors in the classrooms. If the instructors have questions, they know that there are people in the school that can help them to help clarify things.”
Deleon Guerrero assured the board that all the list of changes and additional requirements to qualify as instructor shall be considered, determine the list of CCLHS experts in the CNMI, and talk about the process on how they would get mentors.
Guerrero said that the board will continue to help teachers improve themselves.
“It’s not a question that we are limiting or excluding people but more of how can the system [PSS] support them in any way. What we have are still proposals so before it becomes final, changes can still be made, especially after we receive comments from the community and schools,” he added.