Lack of funding, low interest keeps school from hiring Chinese teacher

Francis Nguyen, Staff Reporter

To graduate, students are required to have completed at least two world language credits. At Cleveland, those options are limited to Mandarin-Chinese and Spanish. However, the numbers of available language teachers differ. Spanish is taught by teachers Victoria Jones, Sadie Sattler and Jennifer Wittenberg, while Chinese instruction is solely provided by Ching-Hsien Shu.

Ching-Hsien Shu is the only World Language teacher for Chinese.

Shu has been teaching at Cleveland for nearly 10 years. During that time, she’s been the only language teacher instructing four levels of Mandarin-Chinese: 1-3 and advanced placement (AP), with the AP class being the most recent addition. 

“Sometimes I don’t have enough time for myself or family, I always put more time and effort into the Chinese classes,” Shu said. “I’m still struggling on how to teach AP and helping my students to pass the AP test.

Class sizes contribute to Shu’s struggle.

“The class sizes are a given hard, because it’s so big,” Shu said. “It’s hard to manage, especially Chinese 1.”

A resolution suggested for this staffing shortage is more funding. Cleveland has a budget on how much money they can allocate to their language department, and it can only pay for so much. Shu said this year has been tougher because AP requires more reading materials.

“The books are very expensive,” she said. “In order for everyone to have a book, it costs a lot.”

Jones is optimistic that the staff shortage will improve next year.

“Right now, there’s only one Chinese teacher because we didn’t have funds,” said Jones. She believes that Cleveland will have enough funds to get another Chinese teacher next year.

Principal George Breland believes that student interest is the reason behind the difference of the world language teachers.

“It’s what the kids choose,” Breland said. “It’s any course. If you have like 250 freshmen, if more of them are coming in taking Algebra 2 and Geometry, you got to have more of those sections, because that is what’s required and requested, so we would have to increase those sections.”

While adding another Chinese teacher would decrease the class sizes, the interest in Chinese seems to be lower for students.

Not only is interest a factor but also earning potential. Shu said a teacher only receives 20 percent of the full-time income for teaching one class.

“It’s hard to hire a teacher who’d want to come here for [20 percent] of the payment. They’d need to drive, and that’s gas and time, so, you know, it’s hard.”