Research has shown that a concerted effort to recruit teachers of color has been difficult nationwide (D’amico, Pawlewicz, Earley, & McGeehan, 2017). Some studies suggest that Black and Hispanic students have been turned off by entering the teaching profession due to the fact that many have had poor experiences in underperforming schools (Madkins, 2011). Those who do make their way to college look for careers that offer more money and prestige. District recruitment cycles are not enough to improve teacher diversity. An intervention has to be put in place that monitors the number of teachers of color (TOCs) that are being recruited, hired, retained, and that are leaving the profession.
Based on a 2014 study by the Albert Shanker Institute (ASI), researchers found that TOCs work better with minority students. It was found that TOCs have higher expectations for minority students, and those students benefit from having teachers from their own racial group who understand their cultural backgrounds (ASI, 2014). The study also found that White students also benefit from having TOCs (ASI, 2014). The increase of minority students nationwide, has led to an increase in the number of minority teachers, but while the amount of Black and Hispanic teachers has grown over the last 25 years, the profession continues to remain predominantly White and female, regardless of whether the school is low-performing and high minority, or high-performing and low-minority (White, 2016). Unfortunately, one of the problems encountered is that there is an uneven distribution of TOCs across public schools (White, 2016). Most of these teachers can often be found in high-poverty, high-minority schools (ASI, 2016; White, 2016). The added stress placed on these low-performing schools to succeed, in many cases leads to these teachers, like all teachers, to have a higher rate of attrition due to a lack of professional autonomy, and lack of administrative support (ASI, 2016).
In Major League Baseball, teams have a system established to provide young players with training on how to properly play the game and learn the team’s philosophy and culture. The hope is that one day, these players will be “called up” to play and contribute to the parent team. In education, namely teacher preparation, there are similar programs and systems in place where high school students can learn the ins and outs of the teaching profession within the district they attend with the hopes of one day teaching in their home district.
Grow your Own (GYO) programs have been used to recruit future teachers in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Washington, and Wisconsin. These program are not only important in addressing teacher turnover and attrition, but also the lack of diversity that exists in many school districts. Under the previous MCPS superintendent, Dr. Joshua Starr, it was suggested that MCPS create a teacher “pipeline program” in which the district can guide MCPS graduates into the teaching profession (Starr, 2014). These programs are instituted through university partnerships while students are still in high school, and for those who choose to major in education as undergraduates. Students take education courses in high school and are mentored by staff members.
Several universities and community colleges in Maryland teamed up to create the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM). TAM is a program to addresses the teacher shortage by creating a pipeline of teacher candidates from grades 6-12 through partnerships with those schools (Towson, 2009). In Howard County, Maryland, the district has an initiative with Howard Community College in which high school students can take the ParaPro exam, which qualifies them to be instructional assistants when they graduate high school. Baltimore County Public Schools, Charles County Public Schools, Carroll County Public Schools, and Frederick County Public Schools also have instituted the Teacher Academy of Maryland GYO program for their high school students.
With mentorships like the BOND project helping male TOCs in MCPS, the reach of the program would go even further when we are able to teach, mentor, and provide support to our own students of color to become future educators. The data shows that Black male teachers represent only 3.7 percent of teachers in Maryland public schools. Nationally, Black males make up less than 2 percent of the nation’s teacher workforce (Hawkins, 2015). A GYO program would give the district the opportunity to partner with local universities to train students while in high school and provide an opportunity to get college credits toward getting teacher certification. If implemented in all schools, but especially those with high minority populations, GYO programs can be a step to creating a foundation towards increasing the minority teacher recruiting process.
Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to teach alongside former students and to support those students who are now teaching within the county and within the greater Washington DC area. With several high school in the district offering specialty programs, why not develop and offer a teacher training program to attract and retain our best and our brightest students? By instituting a GYO program, MCPS can create a “farm” system and a steady stream of TOC for years to come.
Albert Shanker Institute. (2016, January 16). The State of Teacher Diversity in American
Education (Rep.). Retrieved from http://www.shankerinstitute.org/sites/shanker/files/The%20State%20of%20Teacher%20Diversity_0.pdf
D’amico, D., Pawlewicz, R. J., Earley, P. M., & McGeehan, A. P. (2017). Where are all the black teachers? Discrimination in the teacher labor market. Harvard Educational Review, 87(1), 26-49. doi:10.17763/1943-5045-87.1.26
Gershenson, S., Lindsay, C. A., Hart, C. M., & Papageorge, N. W. (2017, March). The long-run impacts of same-race teachers (Working paper No. 10630). Retrieved http://ftp.iza.org/dp10630.pdf
Hawkins, B. D. (2015). Where are all the black male teachers? NEA Today. Retrieved from http://neatoday.org/2015/09/22/where-are-all-the-black-male-teachers/
Madkins, T. C. (2011). The black teacher shortage: A literature review of historical and contemporary trends. Journal of Negro Education, 80(3), 417-420.
Starr, J. P. (2014, December 9). Teacher Workforce Diversity Strategic Plan (Rep.). Retrieved http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/pdf/Teacher%20Workforce%20Diversity%0Strategic%20Plan.pdf
Towson University. (2009). Teacher Academy of Maryland. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from https://www.towson.edu/coe/resources/teacheracademy/
White, T. (2016). Teach for America’s paradoxical diversity initiative: Race, policy, and black teacher displacement in urban public schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24(16), 1-41. http://dx.doi.org/10.14507/epaa.24.2100
John Howard, Ed.D., is a Consulting Teacher and BOND Project member in Montgomery County, Maryland. Dr. Howard is the former English department chair at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Howard has taught previously in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, and Durham County Public Schools in North Carolina. Dr. Howard’s academic interests include the value of teacher credentials in the screening and selection of teacher candidates. Follow him on twitter @Scribe616