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What’s the Future of Teacher Diversity in NC? Colleges of Education May Hold the Answer

This article and photo originally appeared on wral.com and are reprinted with permission.

Muhammed Clemons, a Winston-Salem State University elementary education major, says he struggled with the way some teachers handled his disobedience when he was a child. That inspired him to become a teacher and be a role model to his future students, especially those who struggle in school like he did.

NC’s colleges of education: Student diversity

North Carolina’s 46 colleges of education enrolled more than 51,000 students in their undergraduate programs from 2011 to 2017. Search the database below to see how many students each college’s undergraduate education program enrolled by race and gender during those years. The data include both public and private colleges.

Ten of the colleges enrolled more than 90 percent white students in their undergraduate education programs during the 2016-17 year, according to data analyzed by WRAL News. In a state where students of color, especially black and Hispanic boys, may seldom or never have a teacher who looks like them during their school years, a mostly white college pipeline has contributed to the ongoing diversity gap.

College education leaders say the lack of diversity among their students is “very troubling” and acknowledge they need to work harder to encourage minority students, and particularly men of color, to enter education careers. But colleges aren’t alone in their struggle.

North Carolina’s long-running Teaching Fellows program, a state-funded program that recruited more than 10,000 students to study teaching by providing college tuition help, failed to reach its own goals of bringing in more men and students of color during its nearly 25-year history. The state’s new version of the Teaching Fellows program, which lawmakers relaunched last year without any apparent gender or race goals, still comprises mostly white, mostly female students.

Colleges of education call for more marketing, money

If North Carolina wants to recruit more teachers of color, it’s going to need a better marketing strategy, says Beth Day-Hairston, chair of the education department at Winston-Salem State University. She suggests an “all-out media effort to show the positive sides of being a classroom teacher,” including sharing data and studies about why teacher diversity is important, providing more financial support for men to become educators, and recruiting students in high schools and even earlier to study teaching.

“Society has done a pretty good job convincing people not to go into teacher education, and now we have to fix that mindset,” Day-Hairston said. “If this is something that we value, then we’re going to have to provide resources for students, for male students, to come to school.”

Other North Carolina college leaders agree and say the state should launch a massive marketing campaign to encourage more students of color, and more students in general, to study teaching.

WRAL News emailed leaders of North Carolina’s 46 colleges of education and asked what they are doing to recruit students of color, what hurdles they face and how the state can help them improve diversity in the teaching profession. Several themes emerged in their responses. Besides better marketing of the teaching profession, college leaders said higher pay for teachers and more scholarships and financial support for students of color would help.

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