School Districts Strive to Diversify Teachers | News
About 26% of the public school student body in Daviess County is not white. With this level of diversity, leadership teams at the Owensboro Public School System and Daviess County say it’s critically important to put staff in front of students who are like them.
Owensboro Public Schools and Daviess County Public Schools have been working hard to improve diversity among their teacher populations, which has proven difficult at a time when candidate pools are scarce across the country. School systems have become strategic and in some ways have become creative in the way they identify and recruit potential educators.
Each school system has also hired a director of diversity, equity and inclusion, the people who lead this work.
Forty percent of OPS students are not white. Of PAHO’s 396 certified teachers, 76 are men and 320 are women. Less than 4% of teachers in the OPS identify as non-white. Twenty percent of DCPS students are not white. DCPS has 930 certified teachers, of which 195 are male and about 3% identify as non-white.
Leaders in every district know they have room for improvement, and they are not alone.
According to statistics from the Kentucky Department of Education released this fall, nearly 25% of Commonwealth students are not white. In comparison, about 4.88 percent of educators in public schools identify as belonging to a racial minority group.
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2017-18 – the most recent results – that 9 percent of American educators are Hispanic; 7 percent of American educators are black; 2% are Asian; 2 percent identify as having two or more races; and 1 percent are American Indian / Alaska Native.
PAHO Superintendent Matthew Constant said that with the district’s partnership with Hanover Research – a Virginia-based custom research firm that works closely with elementary and higher education institutions and other agencies to understand their priorities and to create and execute a specific research program – the district leadership learned a lot.
Through surveys, focus groups and the work of the District Equity Task Force, it was clear the OPS had work to do in terms of recruiting more diverse staff, Constant said.
OPS developed the Grow Your Own initiative, in which it recruited and helps fund teacher certifications for current employees. The district has also changed its website to make it more inclusive and representative of student populations. He focused on creating specific videos highlighting the neighborhood and its diversity to share with potential educators.
Constant said the role of a school system in education is to properly equip students to survive in the world after high school. Part of it helps them see people they can strive to be and bring educators from a similar background in front of them.
“In order to do that, we need to prepare them for the diversity that they will no doubt see when they enter the workforce and / or the post-secondary world,” Constant said.
Amy Shutt, DCPS ‘deputy superintendent for social services, said the district has also gone to great lengths to recruit teachers from various backgrounds.
The district has strengthened its relationships with historically Black colleges in the state and region to develop partnerships for student teachers of color to work and learn within DCPS. Shutt and his team have also worked with former DCPS students seeking to become educators, with the goal of encouraging them to return home to teach in the community.
“Although it is too early to see the results of our efforts, we remain committed to the goal of diversifying our staff and increasing the representation of minorities in our district,” she said, and provide positive role models for all students.
As student populations become increasingly diverse, as does the Daviess County community as a whole, it is important for students who identify as non-white to connect with role models and educators they can relate to. see in the future, said Shutt.
“It is also important for white students to see minorities in positions of respect,” she added.
Shutt cited research from the Learning Policy Institute that shows that all students benefit when there are teachers of color in the classroom. Students of color particularly benefit in the areas of improving overall academic performance, achieving higher levels of reading and math, achieving higher graduation and attendance rates, and a greater likelihood of going. at University.
“At DCPS, we seek to put children first,” she said. “It’s every student. Each student learns differently and has individual needs that must be met in the classroom in order for them to become the best version of themselves. As a district, we must continually strive to improve our human resources to meet the needs of our students. Diversifying teaching and support staff is a priority for us in order to meet the needs of students.
Initiatives by these districts to focus on diversifying their faculty are resonating across the country as leaders across the country grapple with these demographics. Beehive groups and spirits come together and seek outside resources to place teachers who look like the students they teach at the front of the classrooms.
A New Orleans-based group – Brothers Empowered to Teach – recruits and trains black men to become educators in Louisiana. Recently, CEO and Co-Founder Larry Irvin Jr. gave a TED talk about the organization and its importance.
Innovative programs, mentorships and paid scholarships are just a few of the tools with which the Brothers Empowered to Teach program has been successful since its inception in 2012. Group leaders hope to increase the number of black teachers in the country, starting with Louisiana.
Irvin said this was a pivotal moment in education and that he hoped discussions about race and DCI in the classroom “ignite the discourse on teacher education, development and demographics.” .
“My personal leadership journey parallels the struggles of black men in education,” he said. “Most of the time, our assessment of value starts from a deficit, and we work upward from there.”
Research has shown, he said, that by placing a black teacher in the third, fourth or fifth grade, a black student’s chances of dropping out of high school drop by 40%.
During his TED talk, Irvin referred to a time when he asked his black students what they wanted to be when they grew up. A majority of them cited a professional basketball player as their aspiration. Their responses told him that the story still hadn’t changed.
The scope of possibilities for these young men is still very limited, he said.
“Sports, streets, entertainment,” he said. “We don’t really see ourselves outside of these arenas. Something must change.