Friday, July 13, 2012

Minority Teachers In The United States – Really A Minority

Yes, a dearth of minority teachers is a massive equity issue and national crisis.  So between 1990 and today, there has indeed been an increase in Latino/a teachers but the gap remains constant.  Retention is an issue.  Quote from within:
"During the 2003 school year, for example, 47,600 minority teachers entered the profession — but approximately 56,000 left."  

So these teachers are affected by the same poor working conditions as other teachers that are leaving the profession.

These teachers—many of them older—are also among the first to be fired in today's budget-cut era because they are expensive and districts can always substitute a less expensive teacher (TFA teacher and others) in their stead.  I saw actual data on this in Texas.  Scandalously, this, too, is an equity issue and states should track this—which teachers from which ethnic groups are being given pink slips.  

I'll post later what many of us around the country are working on as part of the National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project (NLERAP)—specifically a Grow-Your-Own (GYO) Latino/a teacher preparation pipeline in five cities in five states as follows:

Sacramento, California; Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Dallas, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York.  The act of convening a constituency around public schooling and GYO teachers across our five sites underscores community ownership of teacher preparation—not only after pre-service teachers enter the profession but also before and throughout their educational experience in their university program  Ideally, our pipeline will begin getting built in the early grades through student clubs and peer mentorship opportunities.

Our teachers need a constituency, or support network, not only so that they can be more effective teachers, but also so that they can have a backbone of support as they themselves work toward transformational change in their respective communities.  They never work alone but rather as part of a larger collective effort that supports and sustains the pipeline.

We think that this is a model that all groups can consider. 

Incidentally, Dr. Ana Maria Villegas, a member of our 35-member national consortium (or NLERAP) has researched these trends of national data if anyone wants to pursue this further (just Google her).  She, along with Jaqueline Jordan Irvine are referenced in this EdWeek Piece as per this link

Angela Valenzuela, Director
National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project  

Patricia Lopez, Associate Director
National Latino/a Education Research and Policy Project


Minority Teachers In The United States – Really A Minority

By Hope Gillette, Voxxi

For decades, the presence of teachers representing minority groups has been sorely lacking in the education system in the United States. That’s the conclusion offered by a report from a study by Education Week  and Flora Family Foundation, that explored data from 1980-2009 taken from a U.S. Department of Education national survey of teachers and school administrators.

Researchers found a significant gap between the number of minority students and the number of minority teachers. During one test year, the percentage of children in school representing minorities was 41 percent, but only 16.5 percent of educators were from a minority demographic.

According to experts, minority teachers are important in the education system; parents of minority children often feel more comfortable discussing school issues with a teacher from similar heritage, and a diverse teacher population ensures children from all races have a supply of role models.

Research suggests that access to minority teachers may increase attendance, lead to higher test scores, and decrease the number of suspensions in the system.

As one of the fastest growing minorities, Hispanics are a prime example of the education gap. Latino children enrolled in school have far surpassed the number of Latino teachers available. The gap was recognized in the 1990s, when the Exxon Education Foundation revealed 11.8 percent of students were Hispanic and only 3.7 percent of teachers shared that heritage. More recent numbers indicate 21 percent of students are Hispanic compared to 7 percent of Hispanic teachers.
  • But why is there such a gap?

The Education Week study revealed the gap is not linked to a poor enrollment of Hispanics into college level teaching programs. In fact, the number of Latinos in such university classes have almost doubled from the 1980s, rising from 325,000 to 642,000.

What the research did show, however, was that minority teachers are 2 to 3 times more likely to accept positions in hard-to-staff systems in urban, high-poverty zones. In this manner, researchers say the minority teacher factor has been successful, but it is retention of those minority teachers which contributes to the national shortage.

The data indicates teachers from minority demographics are more likely to move from one school to another, and many leave the profession entirely. During the 2003 school year, for example, 47,600 minority teachers entered the profession — but approximately 56,000 left.

When the process was examined, researchers found that contributing to reasons minority teachers leave a school or the entire profession are issues regarding poor treatment from co-workers and superiors, and a poor work environment in hard-to-staff locations.

To combat minority teachers drop-outs, the Education Week report suggests working on two main areas: teacher recruitment and decision-making input.

Because teachers from minorities are indeed available (based on the number of graduates with a teaching degree), schools and education programs need to design recruitment programs that reach the nation’s diverse ethnic groups. Part of the recruitment process means offering competitive wages and desirable work conditions. Decision making within a school will also keep minority teachers invested in the education program, creating a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when the school succeeds as a whole.

This article was first published in Voxxi.

Hope Gillette is an award winning author and novelist. She has been active in the veterinary industry for over 10 years, and her experience extends from exotic animal care to equine sports massage. She shares her home with four cats, a dog, a horse, and her tolerant husband.

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