ECS Panel Examines Strategies Used To Attract Minority Teachers
By Ann Bradley
Efforts to address the nation's shortage of minority teachers will not succeed until states develop policies that deal with education as a single system, rather than as a dual system of precollegiate and higher education, a new report asserts.
The report, "New Strategies for Producing Minority Teachers," was prepared by the Alliance of Leaders for Minority Teachers, a panel established in 1988 by the Education Commission of the States.
Members of the alliance, representing 22 education, research, and policymaking organizations, studied five states: Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and North Carolina. They focused on strategies the states used for recruiting more blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans into teaching careers.
Although policies such as teacher-competency testing are cited as contributing to the decline in the number of minority teachers, the report also blames the substandard education that many minority children receive.
"Studies show that minority students often are assigned disproportionately to low-level courses, where teachers may have low expectations for their achievement," the report notes.
It calls for eliminating tracking and ability grouping and for ending the practice of assigning inexperienced teachers to inner-city schools.
While the majority of states are in some way addressing the shortage of minority teachers, few have significantly enlarged the pool of students from which to draw such teachers, the report says.
Interviews conducted for the study revealed that few educators believed it was their responsibility to "qualify" more minority students interested in teaching careers, rather than merely seek students who were already qualified, the study found.
It recommends discarding the notion of a "pipeline" through which prospective minority teachers must pass in favor of using the term "refinery," which recognizes a more complex system.
The study stresses that without better information on minority-student achievement, gathered from all levels of the education system, policymakers will not be able to understand the complexity of the minority-teacher shortage.
It also suggests that states review their assessment and certification policies to determine their impact on the supply of minority teachers.
Copies of the report are available for $10 each from the ecs Distribution Center, 707 17th St., Suite 2700, Denver, Colo. 80202. Orders should cite report number TE-90-1.