Sept. 17, 2019
Our nation would greatly benefit from improving the preparation, recruitment, and retention of all strong teachers. However, the wide demographic gap between students and teachers brings particular urgency to this work for teachers of color. Last week, New America’s Education Policy Program joined a dozen other organizations in releasing a Call to Action to diversify the teaching workforce. Its goal? Breaking down barriers to ensuring a talented and diverse teaching profession that better serves our schools’ students.
The Reimagine, Represent call to action makes the case that the problem of diversifying teaching is a cyclical one: “In order to recruit a more diverse teaching workforce, we need more diversity in front of the classroom as role models so students of color and young men see teaching as a valued and viable career option.”
Of course, the solution is not that simple, as much of the research on this topic — including our ongoing work on bolstering the Latinx teacher pipeline — is unearthing. Challenges abound throughout the pipeline, from completing high school, to enrolling and completing college, to gaining sufficient preparation, to attaining adequate compensation and ongoing support once in the profession.
This multi-pronged problem requires a multi-pronged solution. As such, Reimagine, Represent outlines a broad set of principles for improving teacher diversity with strategies for teacher recruitment, preparation, placement, and retention.
On the teacher preparation front, we call on decision-makers to take several actions. One of these is ensuring that all teacher preparation programs prepare prospective teachers for all aspects of teaching, including a focus on culturally responsive pedagogy. Another is providing prospective teachers easy access to relevant and reliable information about teacher preparation programs and their success in preparing and placing their teacher candidates, disaggregated by race and gender.
On the recruitment front, one of the actions we call for is raising awareness of teaching as a potential profession among current high school and college students, as well as others employed in non-teaching roles in communities underrepresented in the teaching workforce. We also urge decision-makers to make the teaching profession more desirable to work in for individuals in these communities by increasing teacher compensation so that salaries of educators are competitive with comparable professions in the region.
And on the retention front, we call for a multitude of efforts, such as giving all teachers structured support from their peers early in their careers; creating career advancement and growth opportunities within teaching; and making all schools inclusive environments that respect and celebrate all students’ and teachers’ identities.
New America’s Education Policy Program is committed to helping policymakers and other decision-makers understand the importance of teacher talent and diversity in order to make decisions that will most benefit students. If your organization is too, we urge you to join us by signing on to Reimagine, Represent’s shared statement of principles.
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