Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Approaches to Diversifying the Teaching Force: Attending to Issues of Recruitment, Preparation, and Retention

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

Approaches to Diversifying the Teaching Force: Attending to Issues of Recruitment, Preparation, and Retention

Article excerpt

The widening cultural chasm between teachers and students in elementary and secondary schools is a serious problem in American education demanding concerted action. As the works in this special issue of Teacher Education Quarterly make clear, the shortage of teachers of color has real consequences for all students, but especially for students of color. Despite the urgency, programs of teacher education are not giving this matter the attention it deserves. In this context of relative inattentiveness to the need for teachers of color, it is encouraging to read a collection of articles that feature a variety of carefully designed and well documented approaches to diversify the teaching force. Our goal in this commentary is to place the approaches described in this issue within the broader discussion of recruiting, preparing, and retaining prospective teachers of color.

Bringing People of Color into Teaching

Programs of teacher education have historically played a passive role in student recruitment. It has generally been assumed that the market need for teachers will automatically draw students into teacher education. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 inadvertently challenged this approach to recruitment, however. Prior to the enactment of this legislation, teaching was one of the few careers available to women and people of color. As a result, programs of teacher education--whether at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)--had a captive pool of talented people from which to draw students. As professional opportunities opened up in this country for women and racial/ethnic minorities, undergraduates from these groups began to defect in large numbers from education to other fields such as business, engineering, and the health professions (Carter & Wilson, 1992; Urban, 2000). The declining popularity of teaching, coupled with increased demand for teachers over the past fifteen years, has pushed programs of teacher education to take on a more active and thoughtful role in recruiting students. Below we discuss the major approaches used during this time to bring candidates of color into teaching, weaving throughout our discussion the approaches described in this issue. Such approaches are distinguished primarily by the population targeted for recruitment, as we explain below.

Enrolled Undergraduates with Undeclared Majors

Teacher education programs seeking to diversify their enrollments often recruit undergraduates of color at their institutions with undeclared majors. An advantage of this approach is that potential recruits are on campus already and generally eager to give direction to their professional futures. Unfortunately, because the number of students of color who matriculate directly at four-year colleges is limited, programs of teacher education must compete aggressively with other fields on campus for this small population. To promote interest in teaching, recruitment efforts are crafted to help identified students understand the valuable contributions that educators make to society, the many opportunities available to someone with a teaching credential, and the type of preparation and support the teacher education program is ready to provide.

This recruitment approach is exemplified by the teacher preparation program Wong, Murai, Avila, White, Baker, Arellano, and Echandia describe in this issue. Although the Multilingual/Multicultural Teacher Preparation Center (M/M Center) at California State University, Sacramento, was designed as a fifth-year credential program, the recruitment of potential students begins as early as their freshman year in college. The Freshman Seminar, sections of which are taught by M/M Center faculty, exposes students to the merit of a teaching career. Faculty from the M/M Center also offer an undergraduate minor in Multicultural Education (into which the pre-requisites to the teacher credential program are built) and teach capstone courses for Social Science majors with an interest in teaching. …

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