El Monte District Recruits Teachers in Canada

Times Staff Writer

The El Monte Union High School District, like other school districts in Southern California, is desperate for teachers, especially in math, science and bilingual education.

But 1,000 miles north in British Columbia, where the government has cut back on public school funding, teachers are desperate for jobs.

So last month school personnel, who have 20 vacancies to fill, went on a recruiting trip to Vancouver, Canada, hoping El Monte's teacher shortage and Canada's teacher glut would make a successful match.

The result: 11 Canadians have been hired to begin teaching here in September.

They are among 2,000 teachers who attended a job fair at the University of British Columbia, sponsored by the British Columbia Teachers Federation.

"We found well-qualified people," said Jack Quinn, principal at Arroyo High School. "I talked to an Asian microbiologist who wants to be a teacher, but he can't find a job so he is working for an ambulance service. Those teachers are desperate for jobs."

Salaries are about the same in El Monte as they are in Vancouver, Quinn said. The starting salary here is $19,000.

El Monte heard about the Canadian glut from the Long Beach Unified School District, which sent representatives to a similar job fair in April.

"This is a pioneering effort," said Richard Van Der Laan, a spokesman for the Long Beach district. "We have recruited before in other states where there have been layoffs because of population declines. But this the first time we went out of the country in an attempt to find qualified teachers. . . . We hope when the Canadians come here they will have a good experience and their friends will be willing to relocate."

El Monte officials caution that the Canadian teachers they have hired must get state teaching credentials and visas. "We are not now considering those 11 positions closed," said a spokesman in the district's personnel office.

Supt. James Sheridan said, "We are still recruiting locally in science and math, although we would like applicants to be bilingual." Of the district's 7,545 students in the 1984-85 school year, 500 were Asian and 5,000 were Latino.

"Because of our growing Indo-Chinese population, we need English-as-a-second-language teachers," said school board member Ralph Gutierrez. "One of our hires from Canada majored in English and minored and French, and since so many of our Asians speak French, this is a real asset to the district."

The district's enrollment has increased by 500 in the last two years to a projected September enrollment of 7,700. The district, which has 300 teachers, recently lost two computer science teachers to Pasadena City College, Gutierrez said.

"We have a glut of teachers in social science and physical education," he said, "but we need teachers in science and math.

"We recruited throughout Southern California and couldn't find anyone. It is hard to find teachers who want to locate in our area. They prefer Beverly Hills or San Marino.

Schools in the district are Rosemead High School in Rosemead and Arroyo, El Monte and Mountain View high schools in El Monte.

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