2019 Session Explored AACTE Initiatives toward Increasing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The “AACTE Initiatives toward Increasing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Colleges of Teacher Education” Deeper Dive session was held during the 2019 Annual Meeting. The session highlighted the association’s current, ongoing, and future commitments in these areas in a discussion moderated by Jennifer Robinson of Montclair State University and included panelists Lillian Sharon Leathers of William Paterson University of New Jersey and AACTE’s Jacqueline King, Jacqueline Rodriguez, and Jane West.
King, author of AACTE’s recently published Education Students and Diversity: A Review of New Evidence report, described the findings, which showed that education is the least diverse in bachelor’s degree fields. King shared other important data such as 50% of African American education students and 40% of Hispanic education students are independent; 30% of African American students and 20% Hispanic students had children; and 20% African American students were single parents. She emphasized that child care, for example, is an issue that cannot be ignored when considering the matter of diversity. In addition, 4% of Hispanic students are first generation students and 22% do not have a parent that has graduated from high school. The study revealed that one in five African American students work full-time and that the median family income of white, dependent students is more than double of their African American and Hispanic peers.
King stressed how the information gathered in this study is important data for schools and colleges of education to have when making future decisions about recruiting, support services, clinical practice and residencies, financial aid and retention.
“To diversify the workforce, it’s important to have an adequate data structure so you know what you are working with. If you don’t have the data, you need to find a way to get it. You cannot make your program work if you don’t know what you are working with.”
Leathers reported findings from the AACTE Black and Hispanic/Latino Male Teachers Initiative Networked Improvement Community report. In 2014, AACTE selected 10 member institutions to participate in the Networked Improvement Community (NIC), which varied by location, size of program and definition of a “teacher candidate.” The 10 institutions participated in the NIC during four, 90-day cycles from 2014 to 2018. Leathers reported on several lessons learned, including that in order for successful recruitment to happen, “intrusive” advising is essential; culturally aware mentoring is key; and recruitment is enhanced when culturally relevant pedagogies are not just aspired to—they must be actively pursued and practiced.
“Remember, Black and Latino males are not the problem where diversity is concerned,” said Leathers. “It’s the institution’s problem.”
During her talk, West discussed recent AACTE initiatives and discoveries associated with diversity and special education. Among the findings was that in order for students not to experience marginalization, discrimination, or low expectations, programs must be hyper-focused on preventing these problems. She shared that a number of products that focus on best practices from a special education perspective—specifically special education tenets of clinical practice and initiatives focused on the shortage of special education teachers—are available on the AACTE website.
“There is not much information out there on teachers with disabilities, teaching students with disabilities, said West. “Diversifying the teaching profession is increasingly possible when this sort of information is gathered.”
Rodriguez encouraged institutions to consider creating an AACTE Holmes Program as a way to preserve students of color on college campuses and to funnel the students into teaching. The Holmes Program supports students from historically underrepresented groups who are pursuing careers in education at AACTE member institutions. She discussed how AACTE is helping institutions feature Holmes Scholars, and is eager to connect with those institutions that want to create a Holmes program. She invited session attendees to visit the AACTE website for information on how to get the process started.
A video recording on this Deeper Dive session, “AACTE Initiatives toward Increasing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Colleges of Teacher Education” is available to Annual Meeting attendees at aacte.org. Additional video recordings of the General Sessions and all Deeper Dives from the 71st Annual Meeting may be accessed in the AACTE Resource Library.