Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage has an ‘uglier’ problem: Lack of teacher diversity | Notice

By Rebecca L. Watts

“The shortage of teachers [in Pennsylvania] is a crisis.

That’s the chilling assessment of Richard Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), during a recent hearing of the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee. Although the situation is difficult, I commend Askey and the committee for this candid discussion and for identifying the issues that are making the educator staffing crisis worse.

One factor Askey cited is the lack of teachers of color, a problem he called “even uglier” than the cost and barriers to entry into the profession. The PSEA chief noted that students of color make up 36% of Pennsylvania’s public school student population, but only 6% of all public school educators are people of color.

The benefits of a diverse teaching workforce are clear.

Research by the Learning Policy Institute found that students of color and white students reported having positive perceptions of their teachers of color, including feelings of being cared for and meeting academic challenges. Learning from racially diverse educators has the potential to provide tangible and relevant role models and positive student outcomes, such as better reading and math test scores; higher graduation rates; and heightened aspirations to attend college.

While research shows that teachers of color help close race-based achievement gaps and are highly rated by students of all ethnicities, data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that racial minorities and ethnic made up only 21% of all public primary and secondary schools. teachers in the United States during the 2017-2018 school year.

In contrast, the latest data shows that more than 50% of all public elementary and secondary school students in the United States are non-white minorities.

Experts and Advocates Focus on Expanding Job Pool for Black Teachers

In his testimony, Askey cited research that clearly illustrates the extent of the problem. For example, from the 2013-14 to 2019-20 school years, the percentage of students of color in Pennsylvania increased by more than 30%.

Yet over the same period, the percentage of teachers of color in the state has only increased by about 5.5 percent. Even more telling, 22 Pennsylvania schools with at least 80% students of color employed no teachers of color, and 138 of the state’s 499 school districts had no teachers of color in the past seven school years. . Zero.

There are many barriers to recruiting and retaining teachers of color, including inadequate teacher preparation and support, licensure exams that disproportionately exclude applicants of color, poor working conditions, and low wages.

If Pennsylvania hopes to close its diversity gap, it is imperative that K-12 schools and educator preparation programs at colleges and universities work together to make Commonwealth learning environments intentionally inclusive and more representative of communities. that we serve.

Higher salaries, more respect: report points the way to solving teacher shortage | Friday coffee

The Teachers College at Western Governors University is in the top 1% for granting degrees to Black and Latino educators at the graduate and university levels and is second in the nation for combined graduate and undergraduate degrees and degrees for students of color, according to the integrated federal government. Post-Secondary Education Data System. The university is also working with other organizations to create a virtual coalition for healthy learning.

With support from the Trellis Foundation, the coalition has brought together historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, access-focused universities, and public school districts who are all committed to this work. . The founding group collaborates on programmatic strategy, develops policy frameworks, shares key learnings, and poses questions for further exploration and research in each of the five focus areas.

If we want our K-12 classrooms to more effectively meet the needs of all children, it is essential that we prioritize creating learning environments that allow all students in Pennsylvania to benefit from the experience of having racially and ethnically representative educators.

We must be intentional in our efforts to develop and implement teacher recruitment, training and retention strategies that respect and accommodate the diverse life experiences of the students we aim to serve, while providing a career path affordable and accessible to all adults with the skills. -the mastery and passion necessary to become educators.

Rebecca L. Watts, Ph.D., is Regional Vice President of Western Governors University (WGU), an accredited, nonprofit, skills-based learning university serving more than 2,800 students and 5,800 graduates in Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Ohio University and communications degrees including a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Sangamon State, Illinois, and an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, I will.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *