RELEASE: Colorado Poll Shows Concerns Over Teacher Shortages, Lack of Diversity in the Classroom; Highlights Need for Stronger, More Intentional Teacher Recruitment
In Denver, the TeachStrong campaign releases new poll showing strong support among Coloradans for recruiting more diverse, high-achieving teachers to teach in Colorado schools to improve the quality of public education.
The TeachStrong campaign brings together 60 teachers unions, teacher voice organizations, and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016.
Denver — Nearly 5,500 teachers in Colorado will retire this year, and only about 2,000 students will graduate with teacher licenses from universities in the state. At the same time, the proportion of minority students in Colorado’s education system is 43 percent, while the proportion of minority teachers is just 10 percent—an example of the state’s struggles to fill classrooms with teachers that reflect the diversity of the student body.
Today in Denver, Colorado education leaders—including Colorado state Sen. Nancy Todd (D), Colorado Department of Education Interim Commissioner Katy Anthes, University of Colorado Denver Associate Professor Margarita Bianco, and Denver educators—joined Lisette Partelow from the TeachStrong campaign to highlight strategies that Colorado is taking to identify and recruit excellent teacher candidates.
The TeachStrong campaign is a coalition of 60 leading education groups aimed at making modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority in 2016—so that students, especially those from low-income families, can be taught by great teachers. To accomplish this goal, TeachStrong believes that the United States must invest in and develop policies that better recruit, prepare, support, and compensate teachers through all stages of their careers.
The campaign’s first policy proposal, released today, focuses on identifying and recruiting more teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce.
“It is crucial that we recruit the best and the brightest to this noble profession to make sure every student has a chance to have a highly qualified teacher in front of the classroom,” said Colorado Interim Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes.
“Teacher shortages and a lack of diversity in the classroom are issues confronting many states and school districts, including Colorado,” said Lisette Partelow, Director of Teacher Policy at the Center for American Progress, the convener of the TeachStrong coalition. “Every student deserves access to a great teacher, and recruiting high-achieving, diverse teacher candidates is crucial to elevating the profession to make this a reality.”
“We will not have a diverse teaching force merely by wanting one. We need to take action,” said Kyle Schwartz, a third-grade teacher at Doull Elementary School and TeachStrong ambassador who spoke at today’s news conference. “We need to create pathways into the classrooms that are accessible to all people who have the drive, intelligence, and passion to become the high-quality educators our students deserve.”
A new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling and released today by TeachStrong underscores Coloradans’ support for stronger, more intentional recruitment of teacher candidates—particularly those that are underrepresented in the classroom, such as black and Hispanic teachers. Poll findings include:
- 88 percent of Coloradans say that teachers play a critical role in improving the quality of public education in Colorado.
- 80 percent of Coloradans either strongly or somewhat agree that “recruiting more diverse, high-achieving teachers to teach in Colorado schools would improve the quality of education in the state.”
- 69 percent of Coloradans strongly or somewhat agree that “teacher preparation programs and school districts should work together to recruit diverse, high-achieving candidates.” More Coloradans support this approach than have a favorable opinion of skiing (56 percent) or the Coors Brewing Company (53 percent).
- 58 percent of Coloradans say that Colorado’s teacher candidate shortage is a “major problem” for Colorado public schools.
- 57 percent of Coloradans say it’s important for Black and Hispanic students see their own diversity represented by their teachers.”
TeachStrong’s policy proposal released today offers the following recommendations in order to recruit more diverse, high-achieving teachers to teach in Colorado and across the United States:
- Undergraduate and graduate preparation programs, the institutions of higher education that house them, and school districts should work together to recruit diverse, high-achieving candidates.
- Undergraduate and graduate preparation programs—and the institutions of higher education that house them—should dedicate more resources to finding and recruiting diverse, high-achieving individuals with great potential to succeed as teachers.
- States should incentivize a shift toward more intentional recruitment and provide resources for doing so.
- States should encourage districts to more intentionally recruit diverse, high-achieving candidates through “grow-your-own” programs.
- Districts should develop priority-hiring processes for high-needs schools in order to ensure that all students have access to diverse, high-achieving teachers.
- States and school districts should work with historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions to ensure diversity in the teaching profession.
- States and school districts should work with programs that connect diverse, high-achieving candidates, including high school students, to the classroom.
Today, TeachStrong also released a new video—part of its Story Project—in which Kyle Schwartz and other TeachStrong ambassadors from across the United States discuss the need to identify and recruit excellent candidates into the teaching profession, emphasizing the importance of diversifying the teacher workforce. Click here to watch the video.
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