Study Finds Few Minorities Reach The End of 'Educational Pipeline'

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Washington--The impending shortage of minority teachers is "worse than the most informed educators have envisioned," a survey released here last week by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education concludes.

The survey of teacher-preparatory institutions in 47 states and the District of Columbia provides one of the first broad statistical portraits of minority-student enrollment throughout the "education pipeline"--from elementary school through teacher training.

In addition to its compilation of minority-enrollment figures from schools, colleges, and departments of education, the study examines by race and ethnicity the enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools and in postsecondary institutions.

The data show starkly that the "higher the educational level, the fewer minorities there will be," said Eugene E. Eubanks, president of aacte and dean of the school of education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"The pipeline is clogged at the high-school level," he said, "and we must repair the existing damage or live with the consequences."

A Dwindling Supply

Demographic data indicate that minorities constitute nearly 30 percent of the school-age population, and roughly 33 percent of the pre4school-age population.

But the aacte survey found that of the undergraduates enrolled in elementary-education programs in the fall of 1987, only 5.3 percent were black, 3.7 percent were Hispanic, and 1.3 percent were Asian.

Of those undergraduates preparing to teach at the high-school level, only 6.3 percent were black, 1.9 percent were Hispanic, and less than 1 percent were Asian.

Problems in retaining minority students at all levels of the education system were evidenced nationally and mirrored in data from the individual states.

In Michigan, for instance, the black K-12 enrollment is 31 percent, postsecondary enrollment is 9 percent, and enrollment in undergraduate teacher-education programs is 2 percent.

In Massachusetts, Hispanic K-12 enrollment is 8 percent, postsecondary enrollment is 2 percent, and undergraduate teacher-education enrollment is less than 1 percent.

To prepare the study, aacte requested enrollment figures for last fall from the nation's 1,272 colleges and universities that prepare teachers. Of those, 638 responded, or approximately 54 percent.

Comparative data for minority enrollment in grades K-12 are from the 1984 and 1986 elementary- and secondary-school civil-rights surveys, conducted by the U.S. Education Department. Postsecondary data are from the report "Trends in Minority Enrollment in Higher Education, Fall 1976-Fall 1986," also published by the federal government.

Preliminary results from the aacte survey were released last January. (See Education Week, Jan. 13, 1988.)

The report focuses on minority enrollment in undergraduate teacher-education programs, which are the primary source of classroom teachers, according to aacte officials.

But it also includes enrollment data in post-baccalaureate and doctoral-level education programs by race and ethnicity.

In most instances, fewer than 10 percent of students enrolled in such programs were black, Hispanic, or Asian. The most notable exceptions were in such Southern states as Louisiana and Mississippi and in the District of Columbia.

Other Findings

The report found that while 33 states have K-12 minority enrollments of 20 percent or more, only six have minority enrollments in their undergraduate teacher-education programs of 15 percent or more.

Moreover, historically black schools and colleges of education continue to supply a disproportionate number of minority teachers.

These institutions, which constituted fewer than 5 percent of the survey respondents, enroll more than 30 percent of all black undergraduate teacher-education students nationwide.

In contrast, the survey found that colleges of education in large public institutions were less racially and ethnically integrated than their smaller counterparts. Mary Dilworth, aacte's director of research and information services, speculated that this reflected the low proportion of minorities on such campuses in general.

She added that "if you're a black, and you've got the wherewithal to get into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill" or a similar institution, "the probability that you're going to go into teacher education is slim."

'Massive Effort' Needed

Earlier this year, aacte proposed a 10-point program to attract more minority students into teaching, ranging from the provision of scholarships and loans to work-study opportunities for high-school students.

Several education-school deans attending a press conference on the report, including the deans of Eastern Michigan University and Norfolk State University, described programs to attract and retain minority students on their campuses.

These include bringing young mi4nority students to campus over several summers to improve their academic skills, creating "future teachers" clubs in inner-city areas, hiring more minority faculty members, providing scholarships and loan programs, and helping minority students pass the tests required for state teacher certification.

Despite these initiatives on the part of individual institutions, Mr. Eubanks cautioned, there is still a "need for a massive effort to address this problem."

The shortage of minority teachers, he suggested, cannot be solved by trying to draw minority students away from schools of law, medicine, or business, but must be accomplished by increasing the number who enter higher education generally.

Aacte officials plan to use this year's survey to provide baseline data for future reports on minority teacher-education enrollments.

Copies of the report, "Teacher Education Pipeline: Schools, Colleges, and Departments of Education Enrollments by Race and Ethnicity," are available for $12 each from aacte Publications, One Dupont Circle, Suite 610, Washington, D.C. 20036-2412.

Vol. 08, Issue 09

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