Southern Officials Set Plans To Develop Minority Teachers

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Educators from five Southern states last week recommended a number of strategies their governors might use to attract more black high-school and college students to the teaching profession.

The educators serve on state task forces appointed by the governors of Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia as part of the Southern Regional Task Force on the Supply of Minority Teachers. The effort was initiated last year by the Southern Education Foundation with a grant from the National Governors' Association.

The five sets of proposals--one for each state--include such strategies as loan-forgiveness and scholarship programs for prospective teachers; the development of statewide teacher supply-and-demand data bases; and the creation and expansion of future-teachers' clubs in high schools.

The educators released their proposals at a meeting in Little Rock, Ark., organized by the S.E.F. They called on their states' governors to include the recommendations in their legislative agendas.

"Some sort of intervention is necessary to increase the diversity of the teaching force,'' said Nathaniel Jackson, program officer for the S.E.F., an Atlanta-based group.

"For most blacks growing up in the South, black teachers were their only professional role models,'' he said. "Even though times have changed considerably, in some areas, the teacher is still the primary professional role model for black children.''

A recent study by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education supports the view that a decreasing number of minorities want to enter teaching. Of the prospective teachers enrolled in elementary-education programs in 1987, the survey found that 4.3 percent were black and 2 percent were Hispanic. Likewise, of the students studying to be high-school teachers, only 4.1 percent were black and 1.2 percent were Hispanic. (See Education Week, Jan. 13, 1988.)

At the same time, demographic data indicate that the proportion of minority students is increasing. Nearly 30 percent of the school-age population, and roughly one-third of the preschool-age population, is composed of minorities.

The task forces' recommendations are noteworthy, Mr. Jackson said, because of their statewide scope and their calls for state financial support. Most prior efforts of their kind, he said, have usually been funded by private groups and foundations and have aided only local recruitment.

None of the state panels included cost estimates in their proposals, according to Mr. Jackson, and only the governor of North Carolina thus far has indicated that he supports the recommendations of his state's task force. --EF

Vol. 07, Issue 35

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