March 10 (New York) — Today, 12 teachers from Educators for Excellence-New York (E4E-New York), a teacher-led organization, traveled to Albany to urge legislators to address the teacher diversity crisis in New York’s educator workforce. The teachers met with eight legislators and delivered over 700 letters from their colleagues in support of doubling the funding for the My Brother’s Keeper Teacher Opportunity Corps program to $6 million.
For the last year, Educators for Excellence-New York members have been calling for more programs that work to recruit, train and graduate more educators of color, including a successful push for the New York Board of Regents to endorse the expansion of the Teacher Opportunity Corps II. The campaign originated from recommendations in Ready for Day One and Beyond, a teacher-authored policy paper offering solutions to train and diversify the teaching workforce published last year.
“New York fails future educators of color when we ignore where they come from, their culture and the unique challenges standing in the way of them becoming a classroom leader," said Phillippa Bishop-Alexander a New York City public school teacher in Brooklyn. “I am not just an educator. I am also a proud public school parent. My two daughters bring together complex experiences and stories of being from an immigrant household from Central America that is multilingual and multi-ethnic. I want to make sure that our experience is no longer ignored, consciously and unconsciously, in our public schools. With a diverse staff we can move our schools to places where all of our backgrounds are uplifted and given value. We can make schools diverse if Albany takes action. I look forward to seeing their investments in this budget.”
“This is not just a New York City issue. Schools across the state will thrive when their staff better represents the awesome diversity of our communities,” said Paula L. White, Executive Director of E4E-New York. “Right now there are young kids of color sitting in classrooms who would have a world of possibilities open to them if they had a role model and mentor who reflected their background. The crisis is even deeper in communities of new immigrants who have significant barriers to have their language, culture and background represented in schools. In this upcoming budget, the Senate and Assembly can make these students a priority.”
The educators pointed to data from The Education Trust-New York showing that 115,985 black and Latino New York students do not have a single educator that shares their race or ethnicity. Recent state data revealed that both Manhattan and Brooklyn have fewer educators of color today than 10 years ago. Even more concerning, more than 200 school districts across the state employ no educators of color at a time when many communities are facing teaching shortages in critical areas.
Having a teacher of color has long-term academic and social impact on students:
Black students who have a single teacher of color before third grade are more likely to graduate, significantly more likely to attend college, and;
Students perform three to six percentile points higher on reading and math tests than students of color without a classroom leader of color;
Students of color - and especially male students of color - are less likely to be subjected to suspensions or expulsions if they have a teacher of color.
All students, but especially so for students of color, report more favorable impressions of the instruction provided by non-white educators compared to white educators.