HBCUs have a role in closing educator diversity gap

There is increased conversation about the need to hire more teachers of color, a conversation Dr. Andre Perry writes for The Hechinger Report has been long ongoing and can start at minority-serving institutions and historically black colleges and universities.

These institutions are sparingly funded in comparison to primarily white institutions, which can make it more difficult to create and support tracks that students can embark on to become educators — and one U.S. Department of Education official noted that, in 2015, one major research institution received more funding than all the HBCUs combined.

Perry also points to issues with alternative route teaching certificate programs, which are quicker means to become certified for education, and he notes that many alternative certification programs place educators into communities where they are outsiders and have no experience.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the homogenous makeup of public school educators is severe, with approximately 82% of teachers in public school being white. The report found that while educators throughout the country had become more diverse from 1987 to 2012, increases were not uniform among all demographics, with the proportion of black teachers slightly decreasing during that time. It is increasingly clear to educational administrations that the diversity gap must be closed, and more robust funding for educator pipeline tracks at historically black and minority-serving institutions is essential.

A recently-announced $1.5M endeavor to leverage the strengths of HBCUs, many of which were founded as teacher training institutions, to increase the number of black males in the profession is a good start. New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña spoke about the creation of “future teachers’ clubs” in city high schools during a March Education Dive interview. She strongly believed that “the future teachers need to be teachers who experienced this themselves, who have a passion for this,” advocating that it could be beneficial for students who are embarking on the path to becoming teachers to have had experiences in the communities and school systems to which they may become a part.

School districts, NGOs and governments should also endorse and help fund pathways to help install more principals of color throughout the public school system. The Education Department found that only 20% of public school principals were individuals of color in the 2011-2012 school year. Such actions should not be done in isolation without more robustly an increase in supporting teachers of color, but creating more diverse leadership within schools (and within school districts) could help to alleviate the blinders a homogenous leadership pool may have.

Source: Education Dive