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Boser (2011) conducted a national study about the diversity gap between White and Black teachers in American education. The three most prominent results from the data are as follows: (a) each state has a teacher diversity gap, (b) alternative route programs are provided in each state, and (c) teachers of color are more likely to be dissatisfied with salary and school administration(p. 18) Furthermore, students of color, perform better academically with teachers of color. America is a diverse country with people of many different backgrounds. Although statistics support this statement, it highlights the fact that this has not been the trend of education in America (Boser, 2011). Boser discusses the low representation of the blacks in the music teaching profession as among the problems. At the time of this research, Seventeen percent of teachers in America are non-Hispanic and non-white. He suggests that this number could dwindle even lower due to teachers of color being dissatisfied with their jobs. This problem was also associated with lack of culturally diverse teachers in our nation.
Boser attributes the dissatisfaction to the fact that many Black teachers work in underfunded schools in poverty-stricken communities. Teachers of color are not going to enter the field if there’s no appeal. He offers the solution of alternate route programs to increase teachers of color in the classroom. “Most states have alternative route programs for teacher credentialing, which make it easier for college graduates and mid-career professionals to enter the classroom without conventional teaching preparation. Their programs are proving to be successful tools to recruit teachers of color” (p. 2)
Boser (2014) revisits his findings of 2011 with an update of teacher diversity. He conducts a similar study with a more in-depth analysis of the state to state breakdown. Since 2011, the national population has become even more diverse. There was a 50 percent increase in the Hispanic population of the past two decades. Nevertheless, States have cut local programs that support teachers of color recruitment.
This second study reports the findings stated below;-
The gap between teachers and students of color continues to grow; almost every state had a significant diversity gap when we looked across the racial and ethnic backgrounds, we found that the Hispanic teacher population has larger demographic gaps relative to students, Diversity gaps are large within districts,” (p. 2).
The data-driven article supports that teachers of color are not entering the classroom, thus maintaining the teacher diversity gap in the nation.
Teachers of color serve as role models for all students and make school a more welcoming environment.
He also coins the phrase “insider knowledge”; teachers of color can relate better to their students of color since they share similar experiences.
Bireda and Chait (2011) wrote an article discussing the strategies they believe will help increase teacher diversity in the workforce. According to the authors, the shortage of Black and Latino teachers is a huge problem in the education system. Bireda and Chait believe the problem starts with the high school graduation rate of minorities. “The dismal rate of high school and college completion for students of color immediately minimizes the number of eligible candidates for the teaching field,” (p. 5). If minorities don’t even qualify to enter the field of education, then the solution starts much earlier than college.
The authors investigated five different teacher preparation programs, which ranged from Teach for America to smaller state programs such as Teach Tomorrow (Oakland, CA). Each case involved learning about the mission of the programs and its general description, how they recruit and select potential teachers for these programs, and how are they trained and supported. Each program was analyzed to measure its success. The programs must meet candidates where they are. Some of the findings were that talented candidates have many options and don’t always find teaching to have many rewards. Programs often recruit candidates but don’t retain them, due to inefficient support systems in the schools. Regarding the program, there is usually some financial barrier to the road to licensure. Not all candidates can afford to maintain enrollment in these programs. Discussion of waiving these fees or financial aid could make the difference for continued enrollment.
After reviewing the results of this study, the authors recommended that strengthening grant programs is the first step to more diverse teacher programs. “The TEACH program should be a powerful lever to attract high-achieving candidates to the teaching field. The program, unfortunately, is underutilized and does not adequately focus on attracting students with the highest potential for success in the classroom,” (p. 28). Bireda & Chait recommend demanding high standards for participation. By having high standards, candidates who participate are less likely to drop out of the programs. This is because the high standards will motivate them to like the learning process. This article concludes with a thought from former Secretary Duncan: “As long as America has students in all backgrounds, the teachers of America should be representative of our classrooms,” (p. 16).
In a more recent study, Ahmad & Boser (2014) report on the lack of diversity in the general teaching profession. The lack of minority teachers may be contributing to the disparity of success between white, and minority students. There is a need for a pipeline that will lead to more minority students becoming teachers in the future. Many educational shortcomings and underachievement for minority students can be addressed by having strong minority representation in the classroom. Students of color can benefit from having high-achieving teachers with cultural backgrounds similar to their own because such teachers provide real-life models of career success and academic engagement.
Studies have demonstrated that students of color academically perform better with a teacher of a similar background to theirs. The research on this is robust, for example, Tennessee’s Project STAR conducted an experiment which randomly assigned teachers and students to two groups; one group comprising of students and teachers of varies color, and another group comprising of students and teachers of the same color. (Ahmad & Boser, 2014). The research demonstrated that when students were matched with a teacher of the same race, student math and reading scores increased by 3 to 4 percentage points. The studies mentioned in this section use statistical data to support the notion that minorities are not present in education compared to Americans. These authors share the common idea that minority teachers are an essential part of educating youth. They believe that students from all background benefit from seeing teachers of many ethnicities; and particularly students of color. Each of these articles not only presents compelling state to state data but provides America with some solutions to promote teaching as a career to people of color. One of these solutions is programming for undergraduates. In this next section, authors explore why teachers are not entering the education field. Most of the reasons stem from lack of programming.
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