HARLEM, N.Y. (PIX11) — Seven-year-old Richard spent a year making the journey with his mother, Helen, from their native Venezuela.
Helen said her son is ready, and excited to meet his new classmates on Thursday, the first day of school.
“She’s very comfortable with her son going to school,” said a translator interpreting for PIX11 News.
As the New York City Public School System prepares to welcome an estimated 19,000 children of Asylum-seekers, there are lingering concerns over whether the staff is appropriately diverse enough.
Many wonder if there are enough “English as a new language”, or ENL teachers.
Earlier Wednesday, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew welcomed Gov. Kathy Hochul to the union’s Lower Manhattan offices, where she signed new legislation aimed at increasing diversity-led recruitment efforts among underrepresented candidates.
“We think about our obligation to make our workforce diverse, we’re failing terribly,” said Hochul.
It is important to note there’s a sizeable incoming population of West African, and other non-Spanish speaking countries.
City officials said there are currently 3,400 ENL teachers, and an additional 1,700 licensed bilingual Spanish teachers on staff.
However, the question is, if that is enough?
“We’ve had a shortage with that, but we’ve been working with the state, in terms of ways to make it easier for teachers to get the proper certificates,” said Mulgrew.