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How to Grow Your Own: Ideas From NEA/AFT Summit on Teacher Diversity, Social Justice

Last month, more than 150 educators and organizational leaders convened in Washington, DC, for a summit on strategies to recruit and retain a more diverse teaching workforce. Hosted by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the “Grow Your Own: Teacher Diversity and Social Justice Summit” offered a series of presentations and panel discussions focused on efforts to recruit educators from local communities.

One panel focused on educator preparation programs and included faculty from several universities across the nation. They discussed the challenges and successes of their candidates and the particular approaches of successful grow-your-own (GYO) programs, from community-centered recruitment to unique financial incentives and other supports.

A policy-focused panel discussed the government’s ability to advance systems change in education through public policy and provided updates on the current status of legislation and advocacy opportunities. Another group explored GYO strategies that educators, as well as other professionals, can use to stem shortages and increase teacher diversity. Speakers stressed the need for community partners to form their own vision and tailor their approaches to local needs.

The final panel was moderated by AACTE’s Amanda Lester and featured national organization leaders Lezli Baskerville (National Association for Equal Opportunity in Education), Carrie L. Billy (American Indian Higher Education Consortium), and Antonio R. Flores (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities). Participants discussed how minority-serving institutions approach preparing African American, Latino/a, and Native American students to be culturally grounded educators. “We teach from a worldview of the students and communities that they can relate to and that can help them thrive,” Billy said.

For additional coverage of the summit, see this NEA article and this AFT article.

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