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A Toolkit for Social Justice, Equity, and Inclusion

Those who prepare future generations of classroom teachers are well-positioned to promote equity, inclusion, and social justice, but in doing so they must address two significant challenges.

First, they must adopt targeted recruitment strategies to ensure that all PK-12 schools have adequate pools of new teachers from which to choose. This, along with equally important efforts within the PK-12 community to reduce turnover of existing teachers, will eliminate the persistent shortages of well-qualified teachers that deprive many students, especially the most vulnerable ones, of a quality education. In addition to boosting enrollments, teacher educators must also ensure that their candidates resemble the demographics of the PK-12 students they will teach. Over time, this will close the widening diversity gap that exists between students and their teachers in many of the nation’s public schools. As research has shown, this will help close the achievement gap, reduce high school dropout rates, and lead more students to pursue college degrees.[1]

Second, teacher educators must prepare candidates to meet student needs that reflect the full range of human diversity. In California, for example, 61% are underrepresented students of color; 72 languages are spoken; 1 in 8 students (12.5%) is identified as having special education needs; 1 in 5 students (22.8%) lives in poverty, and 1 in 10 California students (10.3%) in middle and high schools identify as LGBTQ. All teachers must be prepared to respond effectively to the diverse range of student assets and needs, and to assure the academic success, social emotional learning, and well-being of every student. To realize this goal, many teacher educators will need to participate in their own professional learning. As a recent AACTE report concluded, “[m]any faculty members at [teacher preparation institutions participating in AACTE’s Networked Improvement Community on teacher diversity] have not received professional development in the area of culturally responsive pedagogy. Thus, faculty are not grounding their teaching and assessments in culturally responsive practices.”

To help meet these two challenges, the California State University (CSU) recently launched a publicly accessible website that includes an extensive and growing collection of resources for teacher educators.

The recruitment resources are organized around student populations (e.g., community college candidates, undergraduates, students of color, paraprofessionals) and the type of strategy (e.g., financial aid, test preparation assistance, social media, and advising). For example, a search for recruitment strategies that target “students of color” that provide “early field experiences” points to the Teaching Fellows Program at Fresno State with this description: Undergraduates participating in the Teaching Fellows Program at Fresno State are paid to work 15 hours per week leading after school enrichment activities. They also attend monthly professional development sessions to develop basic pedagogical skills. Eighty-five percent of the teaching fellows are students of color, virtually matching the demographics of the K-12 students in the Fresno region.

The preparation resources, most of which were submitted by CSU faculty who have used them in their courses, are searchable by Category (e.g., language diversity, equity, inclusive practices, gender diversity, culturally responsive pedagogy), Content (e.g., math, science, language arts), and Media Type (e.g., position paper, video, research article, book). A search focused on “books” and “culturally responsive pedagogy,” for example, produces six results, one of which is a book published in 2014 by Edward Fergus, Pedro Noguera, and Margary Martin titled, Schooling for Resilience: Improving the Life Trajectory of Black and Latino Boys.

Website visitors are encouraged to submit new resources, and website subscribers will receive regular updates about new contributions and monthly Blog posts authored by experts in the field.

For more information, contact kfuternick@calstate.edu

[1] Thomas Dee (2004). “Teachers, Race, and Student Achievement in a Randomized Experiment.” The Review of Economics and Statistics, 86, pp 195 -210 ; Anna Egalite, Brian Kisida, and Marcus A. Winters. (2015). “Representation in the Classroom: The Effect of Own-race Teachers on Student Achievement,” Economics of Education Review, 45; S. Gershenson, C. M. D. Hart, C. A. Lindsay, & N. W. Papageorge (2017). “The long-run impacts of same-race teachers.” Bonn, Germany: IZA Institute of Labor Economics. Discussion Paper Series.