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AACTE Outlines Plan To Recruit Minorities Into Teaching

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Armed with new preliminary data indicating that few minority students are preparing to teach, the nation's largest organization of teacher-training institutions is calling for specific government and private-sector action to address the "crisis-like" situation.

In its policy statement, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education--with the endorsement of seven other major education and civil-rights groups--proposes 10 specific programs, ranging from scholarships and loan incentives to work-study opportunities for4both high-school and college students.

"A quality education requires that all students be exposed to the variety of cultural perspectives that represent the nation at large," states the document, "Minority Teacher Recruitment and Retention: A Call for Action."

"Such exposure can be accomplished," it says, "only via a multi-ethnic teaching force in which racial and ethnic groups are included at a level of parity with their numbers in the population."

The preliminary results of an aacte survey of the nation's 1,271 colleges and universities that prepare teachers show that the number of minority students now enrolled in programs leading to initial certification is "unacceptably low," an accompanying statement distributed with the policy paper states.

Of the prospective teachers enrolled in elementary-education programs in 1987, the survey found that 4.3 percent were black, 2 percent were Hispanic, and 1.8 percent were Asian.

Similarly, the preliminary data reveal that of the students preparing for initial certification as high-school teachers last year, 4.1 percent were black, 1.2 percent were Hispanic, and 1.6 percent were Asian.

In 1986, the teaching force was 10.3 percent minority, down from 11.7 percent in 1971, according to the National Education Association.

Demographic data indicate that nearly 30 percent of the nation's school-age population, and roughly 33 percent of the preschool-age population, are minorities.

'Worse Than We Thought'

Penelope M. Early, aacte's director of government relations, last week called the survey findings "devastating."

"We thought the situation was bad, but the numbers indicate that it is really worse than we thought it was," Ms. Early said. "Some states have 50 minorities or less [preparing to be teachers] in the entire state."

Complete survey results, including state and regional data and analysis, will not be published and released until next month. But to underscore the need for its policy recommendations, aacte released with its statement the preliminary findings on several "representative" states.

In one--Indiana, where the elementary and secondary student population is 7.7 percent black--the group found that only 1 percent of the college students enrolled in teacher-preparation programs last year were black.

And in another--Mississippi, where more than 50 percent of the elementary and secondary students are black--only 10.7 percent of the college students preparing to be teachers were black.

"This crisis-like situation calls for immediate and decisive efforts by government and the private sector," said William Gardner, aacte's president.

Few Programs in Place

Only 14 states have initiated programs specifically designed to increase the number of minority teachers, and the federal government has no such programs, according to aacte.

"Without a national imperative," the group's paper states, "existing initiatives to recruit minorities into teaching will continue to flounder in isolation."

Ms. Early said last week that she has sent the policy statement to a number of key Congressional leaders, and is currently working on getting the recommendations into the hands of state policymakers.

According to John F. Jennings, counsel for the House Committee on Education and Labor, several committee members--including Chairman Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California, Pat Williams, Democrat of Montana, and Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico--are "very interested" in the issue.

"When these members come back to town at the end of January, you will find them trying to translate parts of the [aacte] paper into legislation," Mr. Jennings said. "I don't know how far things will go, but I am sure these members want to focus legislative attention on this issue this year."

The aacte proposals include:

A federally funded scholarship program that would award as much as $5,000 a year to academically superior minority students who intend to enter teaching, and similar state-funded programs.

Work-study programs and other, similar initiatives--funded at the federal, state, and local levels, or with private-sector money--that would give minority high-school and college students both financial assistance and the opportunity to teach.

Federal, state, and local "forgivable" loan programs for minority undergraduates and college graduates who want to train to be teachers.

Programs designed help minority students make the transition from two-year to four-year colleges, thus increasing the number of minorities eligible for a teaching career.

Copies of the statement are available free of charge from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 610, Washington, D.C. 20036.

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