Providing $100K Grants to Seven Black Colleges, Tom Joyner Foundation Encourages the Recruitment, Retention of Minority Teachers

By Hayes, Dianne | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, March 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Providing $100K Grants to Seven Black Colleges, Tom Joyner Foundation Encourages the Recruitment, Retention of Minority Teachers


Hayes, Dianne, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Recruiting, training and maintaining quality teachers is a national challenge, but it has reached crisis levels in the Black community. Today, school systems must overcome a range of recruiting obstacles, including competition from other lucrative career fields and a general lack of interest in the teaching profession. Adding to the problem is the daunting task of passing the teacher licensing and certification exam, the Praxis II.

For the past two years, the Tom Joyner Foundation and the National Education Association have provided more than $700,000 in grants to encourage minority teachers to complete their certification at seven historically Black colleges and universities: Bowie State University, Cheyney State University, Clark Atlanta University, Harris Stowe State College, Jackson State University, Johnson C. Smith University and Tennessee State University.

The seven $100,000 grants offset testing fees and fund workshops, tuition, books and support for students preparing for the Praxis series of exams. The programs are only open to currently employed teachers in K-12 public schools or those currently enrolled in an accredited school of education.

"The program was a real boon to us," says Dr. Ernest J. Middleton, dean of Clark Atlanta's school of education. "It paid stipends for students and [provisional licensed teachers] to take preparation courses and take the test, and it was a recruiting tool to get more into teacher education."

Certification exams vary from state to state, but the federal No Child Left Behind law has put teacher preparation front and center. NCLB requires that every teacher be "highly qualified" in his or her subject area, not just proficient in educational technique. The law also cuts in half the amount of time a teacher can use a provisional license, from six years to three. The provisional license allows teachers to work in the classroom while preparing to pass the Praxis II. …

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