Involving Minorities in Urban Education
Paul W. Kane and Helen Parcell Taylor
Underrepresentation of minority individuals in the teaching profession has been identified as a major problem in teacher education in the United States today ( Kennedy, 1991). While the percentage of minority students in the nation's public schools is on the rise, the percentage of minority teachers is decreasing. In fact, it is expected to drop to less than 5 percent by the year 2000 ( Weiss, 1986). It is predicted that if current demographic trends continue, this teaching force of 5 percent nonwhite teachers will be teaching a national population of students who are one-third nonwhite ( Hawley, 1989).
This disparity between the number of minority teachers and minority students already exists in California. During the 1988-1989 school year, the number of minority students in the state's public schools surpassed 50 percent ( Kennedy, 1991). The trend is even more noticeable in the public school districts in the immediate vicinity of California State University, Fullerton ( CSUF). During October 1991, three public school districts within the university's service area were surveyed. Information was gathered regarding the minority status of the teachers currently employed in these districts and the makeup of the student population. Of the nearly 2,500 teachers working within these three school districts, only 14 percent were minorities. The minority pupil population in two of the districts surveyed exceeded 50 percent while minority students made up 93 percent of the student population in the third district. This particular district projected a need to hire 1,740 new minority teachers within the next decade. Compounding the potential problems presented by such a concentrated minority population was the finding that over 62 percent of the students were of limited English proficiency. At the same time, within the entire state of California, only 8,000 teachers hold bilingual credentials or certificates, far short of the 20,000 needed in the state to meet the educational needs of the student population.