A group of educators have proposed a plan to hire more teachers of color in Connecticut public schools.
A decade ago, the number of minority students in Connecticut was roughly a third of the total student population. Today, that number has grown to almost half. But at the same time, the percentage of minority teachers has remained about the same -- just over eight percent.
So the state Board of Education is trying to increase its minority educator workforce by 200 people per year over the next five years. To do that, lawmakers created a group called the Minority Teacher Recruitment Policy Oversight Council, and this council has a few ideas about how to do it.
Sarah Barzee is on the oversight council, and she works for the state Department of Education.
"First, let's start with: What is your student population, and the racial diversity -- racial, ethnic, linguistic diversity -- what's your educator population, what's the gap, and what goals are you going to do?" she said. "And then, I think, once you've determined that, I think you do have to start looking at: what are we going to train our personnel office -- or principals -- depending on where the hiring responsibility sits, to just begin to explore the potential for unconscious bias in any of those processes."
The council spent the last eight months coming up with a specific plan to recruit more minority teachers. This plan was given to the General Assembly for its consideration, and it includes four suggestions: First, provide money for people to pursue degrees in areas with teacher shortages; second, increase scholarship programs for minority teachers; third, expand pathways to teacher certification; and last, build up existing programs that offer alternative routes to becoming a teacher.
It's unclear how much additional money it would take to fund such a program. Barzee said it's also important for local districts not only to be aware of implicit bias during hiring, but also to encourage students of color to go into teaching.