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Increasing Teacher Diversity

Jul 14, 2017 by

Connecting with varied ethnicity, genders or other aspects of diversity when hiring teachers.

The face of American educators is not a reflection of American students. Only about half of American students are white, but white teachers compose about 82% of school’s teaching faculties.  As alarming as the situation may seem, the number of minority teachers has increased dramatically in recent decades, but that increase has been steadily outpaced by the growing proportion of minority students.  The disparity between the diversity of teachers and students is having an impact on student learning.  The impact of that disparity is most apparent among black males.  A single year of instruction with a teacher of the same race will decrease their chances of leaving before graduating by 39 percent. Research demonstrates how students of all ethnicities benefit from exposure to minority instructors, especially during the early years of adolescence.

School leaders have worked hard to recruit minority teachers in recent years and in most cases, those efforts have resulted in real success.  Today, minority instructors are being hired in greater proportions than white teachers when compared to the greater US population. Sadly, minority teachers are less likely to remain in the profession and suffer from disproportionate attrition rates. These facts clearly illustrate the need for greater effectiveness in minority teacher retention.  Schools that provide mentoring, counseling, cohorts and other support mechanisms are realizing success in retention.  Although teacher retention should certainly be a goal of any school, recruitment is an equally crucial aspect of human resource management, especially when ethnic diversity is a goal.

Perhaps the most successful diversity hiring programs encompass long term plans.  Several school districts in the US begin the recruitment of minority teachers before they graduate high school.  Schools in Massachusetts, South Carolina, Michigan and elsewhere have identified students with interest and talent in teaching and provided them with resources to cultivate that interest.  Many schools collaborate with area teacher education programs.  These relationships with universities can be a very productive means of developing relationships with future faculty members.  Collaboration and relationships are vital to the strategic development of a diverse faculty, but those same concepts are relevant to more immediate staffing concerns.

At some point your school will need to fill a teaching vacancy with little or no notice.  This is an opportune situation to develop relationships with community resources like places of worship and community centers.  These institutions offer established community connections that you can access, especially when looking for educators.  The pastors, coaches, social workers and businesspeople have a vested interest in the success of their communities and can provide connections that may not otherwise seem apparent.  Do not overlook your current community of educators.  Word of mouth and personal referrals remain a reliable means of recruitment.  Of course, the community is much greater than your town or neighborhood in the modern era.  Specialty job boards like emplydiversity.com and academicdiversitysearch.com offer venues for minority candidates and prospective employers to explore opportunities.

Diversity is a mindset.  If your goal is a diverse teaching faculty, then make that apparent in the branding of your school.  Use open and inclusive language in your job postings and outreach materials.  Use imagery that reflects the diverse staff you work to develop. Be prepared to use a variety of recruitment and outreach venues.  Be prepared to utilize contemporary technology like the internet, as well as more traditional venues like print media, radio and TV.  Be mindful of the individuals you want to reach.  Be willing to defy your own prejudices and bias in your search for the most qualified candidates.  History has proven that diversity is a model of strength.  When a diverse group of educators are unified in the common goal of student learning, students, parents, administrators and all community shareholders can expect achievement and results.

Keywords: diversity, human resource management, hiring practices, inclusive education

Comment Below: When possible does your school district hire based on varied ethnicity, genders or other aspects of diversity when hiring teachers?

References

Afterschool: A Powerful Path to Teacher Recruitment and Retention. (2007, July). Retrieved from: http://afterschoolalliance.org/documents/issue_briefs/issue_teach_recruit_28.pdf

Camera, L. (2017, April 17). One Black Teacher Can Improve Outcomes for Black Students. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from: http://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2017-04-05/drop-out-risk-plummets-for-black-students-who-have-one-black-teacher?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term

Ingersoll, R. M., & May, H. (2011, September). Recruitment, Retention and the Minority Teacher Shortage. Retrieved from:http://www.cpre.org/sites/default/files/researchreport/1221_minorityteachershortagereportrr69septfinal.pdf

Portner, H. (2005). Success for new teachers. American School Board Journal. Retrieved from: http:www/asbj.com/2005/10/1005ASBJportner.pdf.

United States Department of Education. (2016, July). The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/highered/racial-diversity/state-racial-diversity-workforce.pdf

Weller, C. (2016, October 17). The best argument for hiring diverse teachers is that kids like them best. Business Insider. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/kids-like-minority-teachers-best-2016-10

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