October 24, 2019

Reimagine, Represent Roundtable: Educators for Excellence Calls for Diversity in the Teaching Force

October 24 (Washington, D.C.) – Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, today hosted a conversation with teachers, students and education experts to advocate for programs and funding to ensure that the teacher workforce is as diverse as the students in classrooms.

Building on their campaign Reimagine, Represent: Strengthening Education through Diversity, launched in September with the support of 15 national education organizations, today’s roundtable brought together diverse voices, including seven teachers, unified in the call to action to improve teacher preparation, recruitment and retention.

Forty percent of public schools across the country do not have a single teacher of color on staff. Despite ample research that outcomes are improved for all students -- especially for students of color -- when they are taught by a diverse set of well-prepared teachers, four out of five teachers today identify as white and 77 percent are female, while more than half of public school students are students of color.

“Our students deserve better, and we must ensure that every single student across the country is able to see themselves reflected in the teacher workforce by dismantling the barriers preventing teachers of color from entering and staying in the profession,” said Lisa Quon, educator and E4E-Los Angeles member. “I didn’t realize the power of having an educator of color until I had my first non-white professor in college. Students should have the opportunity to have teachers who look like them or who have similar lived experiences throughout their education, as they can help reach students who look like them because they have great insight into the challenges those students are facing and how to help them learn and thrive at school.”

Co-signers of the call to action includes hundreds of individual supporters from more than 20 states and the District of Columbia, and 15 national education organization, calling for:

  • Improving teacher preparation and placement by ensuring all teacher preparation programs prepare prospective teachers for all aspects of teaching, from meeting certification standards to navigating the challenges of the modern classroom; working to eliminate bias in the certification process, while maintaining a high bar for entry, and putting systems in place to eliminate biases in hiring practices that prevent underrepresented groups from serving in schools.
  • Keeping talented and diverse teachers in the teaching profession by creating teacher leadership pipelines that provide career and professional growth opportunities; developing compensation structures that reward teachers serving in hard-to-staff schools and subject areas, and those who take on additional responsibilities in order to make teaching a more attractive and financially feasible career option; and creating a national, real-time system for tracking teacher supply and demand, making it possible to prevent shortages.
  • Increasing recruitment of teacher candidates from underrepresented backgrounds by ensuring students of color see teachers of color in front of their classrooms and leading their schools, so that they will see teaching is a viable profession and reducing the financial hardships for prospective and early-career teachers, such as those associated with program tuition, housing, transportation and certification.

“We have to rethink the systems in place to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds,” said Carlotta Pope, ninth-grade English teacher and E4E-New York member. "This is one of the most urgent problems facing our students and our profession."

“Congress can help increase the diversity of the teacher workforce and improve the quality of teacher preparation in a bipartisan way, and that begins with holding hearings on the alarming diversity gap between our teachers and the students they educate,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators for Excellence. “Today we heard from teachers and other education experts to learn more about what created this gap and how we must work to ensure all students are taught by well-prepared, diverse teachers.”

At the E4E Reimagine, Represent roundtable, attendees heard from E4E teacher members from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and New York, as well as experts from around the nation.

Opening Remarks: Kenvin Lacayo, college student, Literacy Lab Leading Men Fellow 2018

Improving Teacher Preparation & Placement

  • Genelle Faulkner, middle school science teacher, E4E-Boston
  • Carlotta Pope, high school English teacher, E4E-New York
  • Paula White, E4E-New York Executive Director
  • Dr. Dawn Williams, Dean Howard University School of Education

Recruiting teacher candidates from underrepresented backgrounds

  • Mary Frances Clardy, elementary school gifted and talented enrichment teacher, E4E-Minnesota
  • Lisa Quon, elementary school teacher, E4E-Los Angeles
  • Sharif El Mekki, Director of the Center for Black Educator Development
  • Evan Stone, E4E Co-Founder and Co-CEO 

Keeping Talented and Diverse Teachers in the Profession 

  • Jasmine Byrd, middle school English teacher E4E-New York
  • Devin Evans, high school English teacher, E4E-Chicago
  • Roxanne Garza, Senior Policy Associate, Education Policy Program New America
  • Simone Hardeman-Jones, E4E National Director of Policy and Partnerships

Call to Action: Sasha Guzman, high school social studies teacher, E4E-Los Angeles

To learn more, visit Reimagine, Represent: Strengthening Education through Diversity.


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