Chicago schools should send to Puerto Rico to relieve an acute shortage of bilingual teachers, a Board of Education committee agreed Tuesday.

The Educational Support Committee agreed to hire Equity Research Corp. to go to Puerto Rico and come home with 100 bilingual teachers to attack a shortage of 300 bilingual positions in the Chicago public schools.

The $ 46,200 recruitment drive is fully reimbursable through the state and would mark the second time Equity Research has conducted such a drive in Puerto Rico for the board.

In 1991, the consultants recruited 67 bilingual teachers from Puerto Rico to instruct Spanish-speaking students — the largest-growing ethnic group in Chicago schools.

The need for bilingual teachers is particularly severe in preschool classes, where only 15 of 438 preschool teachers hold certificates in both bilingual and preschool education, Velma Thomas, head of the board’s preschool program, told committee members Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Patricia Harvey, executive assistant to Supt. Argie K. Johnson, revealed that a multi-based task force is putting a “new look” on Johnson’s three-tiered plan for school improvement by addressing repeated concerns that the plan would label certain schools as failures.

Johnson’s original draft called for dividing schools into three tiers, based on performance, and directing the most resources to tier 3 schools with greatest need.

However, Harvey said a task force appointed by Johnson is forming a list of key elements of successful schools — such as solid school improvement plans. Each element of each school will then be placed in a tier — rather than the entire school.

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