Encouraging & Recruiting Students of Color to Teach

By Newby, Diane E.; Swift, Karen L. et al. | Multicultural Education, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview
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Encouraging & Recruiting Students of Color to Teach


Newby, Diane E., Swift, Karen L., Newby, Robert G., Multicultural Education


Introduction

With the diversity in American classrooms reaching monumental proportions, the resounding cry to expand the number of teachers of color has been on the national agenda for the past decade (Anglin, 1989, 1988; Matcznski & Joseph, 1989). Our classrooms are rich with students from a complex mix of races, cultures, sexual orientations, mental and physical abilities, religious affiliations, family structures, and socioeconomic statuses (Haberman, 1989; Hutchinson & Johnson 1993).

It is apparent that students ofthe 21 st Century will come from more diverse cultures and backgrounds than in any previous time. Teachers of the early 21st Century, however, will remain, in general, a very homogeneous group. In fact, ifthe current trends continues, the percentage of teachers of color will decline to approximately five percent or less by the year 2005 (American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, 1988; Goodwin, 1991; & Lankard, 1994).

John I. Goodlad (1990) described this situation when he wrote, "The minority teacher role (black males for example) thought to be so crucial-given the rapidly changing population demographics-appears to be in devastatingly short supply" (p. 245). The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (1988) has warned that ifa national intervention policy is not instituted to reverse this trend, the faces of teachers of color could disappear from the nation's classrooms.

Throughout the 1980s, researchers argued that many more certified teachers of color were needed to reflect the increasing diversity of students in American classrooms (Anglin, 1989; Matcznski & Joseph, 1989). However, in the early 1990s, it was believed that not nearly enough progress had been made to increase the number of teachers of color to an acceptable level. The situation was viewed as one of the most critical issues facing teacher education. (Boykin 1992; Villegas, 1995; Melnick & Zeichner, 1998). To emphasize the need for increasing the number of teachers of color, Villegas and Clewell (1998) expressed this rationale:

The argument most frequently made for increasing the racial/ethnic diversity of the teaching force is that a democratic society needs teachers of color to serve as role models for all students.... The presence of minority teachers gives students of color hope that they too can grow up to occupy responsible positions in our society. White students can also benefit from a racially and ethnically diverse teaching force. By seeing people of color in professional roles, White youngsters are helped to dispel myths of racial inferiority and incompetence that many have come to internalize about people of color. (pp. 121,122)

The prevelance ofresearch and related literature on recruiting people of color to teach is increasing. Scheetz (1998) found that collaborative partnerships between local school districts and institutions of higher education are becoming a recognized method for identifying and recruiting teacher assistants to enroll in teacher certification programs. Joy and Bruschi (1995) reported on seven such collaboratives. These programs modified existing professional education courses and offered flexible course scheduling to minimize any interruption to the teacher assistants' employment or work schedules. Their report presented the following recommendations:

... programs should offer teacher assistants a career path. They should provide program or university/college support services, including counseling, advising, and faculty support or mentoring. Programs should give participants credits for their work experience in classrooms. Programs should offer flexible course schedules to accommodate teacher assistants' needs. (p. 72)

Villegas (1995) studied four approaches used by institutions of higher education to increase the pool of teachers of color. These approaches involved: (a) recruiting students from local community colleges into undergraduate teacher education programs; (b) recruiting and preparing teaching assistants from local school districts; (c) recruiting students with baccalaureate degrees into fifth-year or post-baccalaureate teacher education; and (d) developing an innovative curriculum to prepare students to teach in culturally diverse classrooms.

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