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Precollege Teacher Programs Hailed as Route for Minorities

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Programs that encourage middle and high school students to become teachers are a promising strategy for recruiting members of minority groups into the profession, a study released last week concludes.

The study, conducted for the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund by Recruiting New Teachers Inc., surveyed 216 precollegiate teacher-recruitment programs across the nation.

The programs, located in 42 states, have collectively served 175,000 students, 38 percent of whom are members of minority groups, the study found.

"These findings help dispel the myth that people of color do not want to go into teaching and suggest that when clear pathways are made available, students of color readily embark on them,'' M. Christine DeVita, the fund's president, said in a statement.

The programs identified in the survey ranged from small-district efforts to the Florida Future Educators of America club program, which involves more than 12,000 students in that state.

Currently, about 30,000 students nationwide participate in some type of teacher-recruitment program, the study found.

Although the programs have attracted significant interest from minority students, the study notes, they have been "only moderately successful'' in attracting male students, who make up 35 percent of the students in the programs and 31 percent of the current teaching force.

5 Categories of Programs

The programs fall into five categories, the survey found. The most ambitious are the magnet schools and teacher academies that offer students intensive experience over a number of years. (See Education Week, March 20, 1991.)

Educators who have launched such programs also highlight teaching as a career in for-credit courses on careers in teaching, through institutes and workshops, in extracurricular programs, and as part of general career-awareness activities, the study found.

Most of the programs were established between 1984 and 1991 by colleges and universities, local education agencies, foundations, and individual teachers.

The two most widely cited reasons for the precollegiate recruiting programs were "to create an awareness of the teaching profession generally'' and "to expand the pool of potential minority teachers,'' the report notes.

Recruiting New Teachers, a national organization that helps people interested in teaching to enter the profession, is distributing a 20-page executive summary of the study, called "Teaching's Next Generation,'' to more than 45,000 superintendents, education deans, state policymakers, and others involved in the recruitment and professional development of teachers.

The full report and summary are available free of charge from Recruiting New Teachers, 385 Concord Ave., Belmont, Mass. 02178; (617) 489-6000.

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