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Minority-Teacher Plan Approved in Mass.

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The Massachusetts Board of Education has approved a report containing 28 recommendations for improving the recruitment and retention of minority teachers.

The report was prepared by a statewide committee appointed in October 1988 by the chancellor of the Massachusetts Board of Regents and the state commissioner of education.

Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, is suffering from a critical shortage of black, Hispanic, and Asian teachers at a time when the number of minority students is rapidly increasing, the report notes.

While 23 percent of elementary-school students in the state are members of minority groups, only 1.2 percent of those enrolled in state teacher-preparation programs are black, according to the report. It says the number of teacher-candidates from other minority groups was "statistically unmeasurable."

The committee recommended that the department of education require an "affirmative-action plan" for the recruitment of both minority students and minority faculty members as part of its approval process for teacher-preparation programs.

"The board must give serious consideration to ending the approval of programs which continue to serve an essentially white-only student body and do not provide evidence of aggressive outreach efforts," the report says.

The report, approved last month, also recommends:

  • Creating "Future Teacher Corps" in school systems with 10 percent or more minority students.
  • Developing special programs at colleges and universities for paraprofessionals who wish to earn teaching credentials.
  • Developing collaborative programs between two- and four-year institutions that focus on increasing the number of minority students entering teacher-training programs. The report recommends that the board of regents take into account the success of these "articulation programs" in meeting targeted numbers during its overall review of the institutions.
  • Creating loan-forgiveness and scholarship programs for minority teachers who agree to teach in urban areas.
  • Reaching out to mid-career minorities and strengthening their opportunities to complete the requirements for provisional state certification.

Massachusetts' new two-stage teacher-certification system will provide new opportunities for recruiting minorities into teaching, the report notes. Because the rules simplify the requirements for initial certification, colleges and universities should explore summer programs and other methods of helping candidates receive provisional certification as quickly as possible, it says.

Susan Tave Zelman, the associate commissioner for educational personnel, said the board is expected to approve a plan for implementing the recommendations in June.--ab

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