The TeachStrong Campaign Releases Its First Policy Proposal Aimed At Increasing Diversity In The Teaching Profession
Education is consistently ranked as a top concern for voters. But our students are falling behind internationally—and in an effort to catch up, we are asking more from our teachers than ever before. Still, we continue to provide them with inadequate training, preparation, and pay. The good news is some education leaders are taking action to address this gap.
Yesterday in Denver, Colorado a group of education leaders joined the TeachStrong campaign to highlight strategies to identify and recruit excellent and diverse teacher candidates, elevate the teaching profession, and address the growing crisis around teacher shortages. The TeachStrong campaign is a coalition that brings together 60 teachers unions, teacher voice organizations, and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016. The Center for American Progress is a founding partner of the TeachStrong campaign.
One of TeachStrong’s core principles is ensuring that all students—especially those from low-income families—are taught by excellent teachers. A key part of achieving that goal is ensuring that teachers better reflect the diversity of their students. Yesterday, TeachStrong released its first policy proposal, which seeks to do just that. TeachStrong’s proposal focuses on identifying and recruiting more teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce. The proposal offers the following recommendations:
- Undergraduate and graduate preparation programs, the institutions of higher education that house them, and school districts should work together to recruit diverse, high-achieving candidates and should dedicate more resources to finding and recruiting individuals with great potential to succeed as teachers.
- States should incentivize a shift toward more intentional recruitment and provide resources for doing so and should encourage districts to more intentionally recruit diverse, high-achieving candidates through “grow-your-own” programs.
- Districts should develop priority-hiring processes for high-needs schools in order to ensure that all students have access to diverse, high-achieving teachers.
- States and school districts should work with historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions to ensure diversity in the teaching profession.
- States and school districts should work with programs that connect diverse, high-achieving candidates, including high school students, to the classroom.
In addition to its first policy proposal, TeachStrong also released a new poll that underscores Coloradans’ support for stronger, more intentional recruitment of teacher candidates. The poll finds that 88 percent of Coloradans say teachers play a critical role in improving the quality of public education in Colorado and 80 percent of Coloradans agree that “recruiting more diverse, high-achieving teachers to teach in Colorado schools would improve the quality of education in the state.” And 58 percent of Coloradans say that Colorado’s teacher candidate shortage is a “major problem for Colorado public schools.”
“We will not have a diverse teaching force merely by wanting one. We need to take action,” said Kyle Schwartz, a third-grade teacher at Doull Elementary School and TeachStrong ambassador. “We need to create pathways into the classrooms that are accessible to all people who have the drive, intelligence, and passion to become the high-quality educators our students deserve.”
BOTTOM LINE: In order to ensure that every student has a chance to learn from an outstanding teacher, we have to make a concerted effort to recruit the best and the brightest candidates, as well as teachers that reflect the diversity of their classrooms. Yesterday’s event in Denver, along with the new polling data, underscores the widespread support for TeachStrong’s efforts to elevate the teaching profession.
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