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New Reports Heighten Attention to Diversity of Teaching Workforce

A new report from the National Education Association (NEA) is the latest in a recent flood of attention to the lack of diversity among the nation’s teaching workforce.

Earlier this week, NEA released Time for a Change: Diversity in Teaching Revisited, which explores the need to recruit and retain teachers of color and the political context that has diminished interest in and initiatives toward meeting the goal. According to Segun Eubanks, director of NEA’s Teacher Quality Department, “This is not a new concern.” The paper examines the progress—or lack of progress—made to address diversity of the teaching workforce and uses the findings as a basis for recommending change.

In a call to action at the report’s release, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle noted, “It’s not just about what this report has to say; it’s about what we are going to do with these findings.” Among the recommendations in the report is that federal, state, and local legislation and policy guidelines must be more explicit about the desire for teachers from underrepresented groups in developing recruitment and other programs. “We must name the type of diversity we seek,” said report coauthor Mary Dilworth. “Too many policies are silent on race, ethnicity, and culture.” Dilworth also emphasized that “diversity includes everyone and omits no one.”

In related news, the Center for American Progress (CAP) last week released two papers examining the issue of teacher diversity. The first brief, Teacher Diversity Revisited: A New State-by-State Analysis, reports that the gap between proportions of teachers and students of color continues to grow. The report revisits the findings of a 2011 issue brief by CAP examining teacher diversity, which found that students of color made up more than 40% of the school-age population, while teachers of color were only 17% of the teaching force. Since then, the nation has grown more diverse, and states have not made much progress in increasing the diversity of their teaching ranks.

The second new CAP paper, America’s Leaky Pipeline for Teachers of Color: Getting More Teachers of Color Into the Classroom, describes the shortcomings of today’s education system and the effect they have on the underachievement of many of today’s students of color—thus shrinking the future supply of teachers of color. The report also offers policy recommendations for diversifying the educator workforce.

Amidst these and other similar efforts in the field, AACTE has just launched its first Networked Improvement Community (NIC), which aims to contribute to increasing the diversity of the teaching workforce by focusing on the recruitment portion of the pipeline. The 10 institutional members of this NIC will be working closely over the next 2 years and employing improvement science research to increase their recruitment of Black and Hispanic males into teacher preparation programs. Click here for more information about the NIC and AACTE’s Innovation Exchange, of which it is a part.

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Saroja Barnes

Senior Director for Professional Issues, AACTE