Connecticut K-12 schools have seen a steady increase in minority educators over the last five years, as have state teacher preparation programs, but the increases are still not enough to result in a larger share of Black and Hispanic students being taught by a teacher of color.
That’s because the number of minority students is increasing at a faster rate than the number of minority teachers.
During Wednesday’s state Board of Education meeting, officials said Connecticut should be able to reach its goal of a 10% minority teaching staff by 2021. In October 2015, minority teachers accounted for 8.3% of the total teaching roster; that percentage rose to 9.6% by October 2019, officials said.
Board member Karen DuBois-Walton said she hopes increased teacher diversity will be represented across all schools in the state rather than just districts with significant minority populations.
The State Department of Education’s Chief Talent Officer Shuana Tucker agreed and said that while the state has no say in the local hiring process, it has been providing districts with resources so they can “diversify their talent pool.”
“All students benefit from positive exposure to individuals from a variety of races and ethnic groups, especially in childhood,” Tucker said. “Which can help to reduce stereotypes, decrease unconscious implicit biases and help promote cross-cultural social bonds.”
The upward trend in educators of color is in part due to the state’s collaboration with various teacher preparedness programs over the years like Educators Rising, which encourages students of color in high school to become educators in their communities.
Connecticut’s EdRising cohort began in New Britain three years ago, but the state announced Tuesday the program will be expanding to nine other districts: Stamford, Hamden, Meriden, Hartford, New London, Danbury, New Haven, Waterbury, and Windsor.
The program will also expand to Central Connecticut State University so that participating high school students will get an early start by earning credits in CCSU education courses for free.
“This is one of the initiatives that, when hired as Commissioner, [Gov. Ned Lamont] made very clear to me, we need to do better in Connecticut, making sure that we have the diversity in our classrooms represented in front of the classrooms as well,’” said Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona on Tuesday. “And this is something that the governor feels very strongly about; I feel very strongly about.”