St. Paul, Minn. (Aug. 5, 2016) — Lack of teacher diversity in Minnesota is a crisis that contributes to the achievement gap for our students of color.
Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers is to help recruit and support more people of color and American Indians into the teaching profession and to support the retention of those who already are in the profession. Click here for the program.
This conference is the first of its kind in Minnesota, with over 300 educators and current and aspiring teachers of color and American Indian teachers already registered to attend. Its theme is “Advocating, Connecting, Healing, Inspiring, Sharing, Empowering and Transforming for Equity.” The conference will be Aug. 10-12, 2016 at Metropolitan State University, Saint Paul Campus, and is organized by the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota (www.tocaimn.com). The program begins Wednesday evening with an opening reception.
Keynote speakers will be Abdul Wright, 2016 Minnesota Teacher of the Year and Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year. Wright, who teaches eighth-grade language arts at the Best Academy in Minneapolis, is the first black male to win the honor, and also the first charter-school teacher so honored. Hayes is a history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Connecticut, and also sees herself as an advisor, counselor, confidant and protector. Rep. Carlos Mariani Rosa of Saint Paul will attend and participate as a presenter in his role as executive director of the Minnesota Education Equity Partnership. Minnesota Department of Education Assistant Commissioner Hue Nguyen is scheduled to give welcome remarks at the opening general session.
Students of color and American Indian students represent 30 percent of the state’s school population but teachers of color and American Indian teachers represent only 4 percent of the 58,200 public school teachers in the state (approximately 900 are Asian, 600 are black, 500 are Hispanic and 250 are American Indian). In Minneapolis and Saint Paul, where 67 percent to 77 percent of students are of color, only 16-17 percent of teachers are of color.
These gaps also exist in many Greater Minnesota communities and suburban schools, and they contribute to persistent opportunity and achievement gaps. Yet each year approximately 4,500 program completers become licensed teachers in Minnesota, but less than 10 percent of candidates are of color.
The coalition proposes steps toward the goal of doubling the number of teachers of color and American Indian teachers statewide (currently approximately 2,200), and ensuring that at least 20 percent of the teacher preparation pipeline are people of color or American Indian by 2020.
This is the coalition’s second event, with the first being a conference in February at Metropolitan State that resulted in legislative bills and proposals, some of which were passed in the 2016 session. The growing coalition was formed in November 2015 by educators from various school districts, public and private colleges and universities. It now includes dozens of communities, districts, organizations, institutions and hundreds of individuals who are united to advocate for diversifying the teaching force in Minnesota to more closely reflect and relate to the increasingly diverse student population in the state.
The nationally recognized School of Urban Education at Metropolitan State University prepares prospective teachers who can build on the talents and resiliency of diverse urban learners for success in school and life. In addition to six urban education licensure programs, Metropolitan State offers the only master of urban education program in Minnesota. Its student body and faculty are the most diverse of any teacher preparation program in Minnesota.
Metropolitan State University, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, is the Twin Cities public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning, and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.