Guam - If you're a Chamorro language teacher or looking to become one, the Department of Education wants you. Thanks to Public Law 31-45, DOE is required to expand the language and culture curriculum for Guam's native tongue, and as such the agency will need an additional 25 Chamorro language teachers within the next two years.

The new law changes the middle school Chamorro language requirement from one to three years and the high school requirement from one to two years. According to Guam Education Board chairman Francis Santos, implementing the new law will conflict with the current 24 credit hour requirement for high school students. He said, "The credit obviously is going to be an issue, and I believe that's why they gave us a two-year period or two-year timeframe in terms of school years to implement this, and the board will address that."

At Wednesday's meeting, GEB members discussed the possibility of changing the high school requirement to 25 credit hours or dropping a class from the current curriculum. Santos is especially concerned because the additional Chamorro class would have an affect on current negotiations with the Guam Federation of Teachers. "That adds one more actual classload into the workload for the teachers, so as board member Barry Mead pointed out, we need to address that as we continue negotiating with the union," Santos added.

DOE Chamorro studies and special projects administrator Ronald Laguana says the next two years of planning will be busy, but a worthwhile investment for future generations. "This is the home of the Chamorros, it's the language of our ancestors - we need to maintain, promote, and perpetuate the language and culture of the Chamorro people," he said.

In the meantime, Laguana encourages residents to pursue careers in Chamorro language, saying, "We also have a scholarship program based on Public Law 31-37, which allows high school students to get scholarships to teach the Chamorro language, as well as existing teachers to get their degrees to educate them in the areas of Chamorro language and culture."