Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata is making good on his word to recruit more minority teachers.
As noted in today's article, Wake has offered early contracts to 27 new minority teachers as part of a series of spring out-of-state recruitment trips ordered by Tata. But Tata and other school officials say it will take time before Wake's teaching force more closely matches the demographics of the student enrollment.
“This is the beginning of a long-time effort to turn an aircraft carrier of HR policy that has been pretty staid with about an 85 percent Caucasian teaching force,” Tata said. "I'm pretty satisfied with the initial efforts that we've made."
One of the first reports that Tata requested after starting as superintendent was the demographics of the teaching force. He found that 85 percent were white, 12 percent were black, 2 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent for other groups.
This isn't close to the 50.5 percent minority student enrollment.
“I’m not satisfied with the fact that we have a 85 percent Caucasian teaching force and 50.5 percent minority student population,” Tata said.
Wake had stopped doing out-of-state recruiting trips in recent years because of budget cuts. But at Tata's direction, money was found to visit several Southern states with historically black colleges and universities and/or large Hispanic populations.
Stephen Gainey, assistant superintendent for resources, stressed they weren't just just trying to hire minority teachers. He said they offered early contracts to the best prospective teachers, a number of whom are minorities.
Gainey said that principals when they do their hiring have been reminded about Tata's call for more minority teachers.
The reason that Wake went out of state is that there just aren't enough minority teaching candidates in the state.
“If it was so easy, don’t you think we would have more minority students in the education field?” said Vivian Covington, director of the Office for Teacher Education Licensure at East Carolina University. “It’s just not.”
Teaching used to be one of the few respected professions that African Americans could choose to enter, according to Diane Scott, associate director of the School of Education at N.C. Central University. But she said now young black students are increasingly choosing other professions.
Scott said that while you can send people on out-of-state recruiting trips, the best way to recruit more minority teachers is to groom students from within your school system.
As to why districts want to recruit more minority teachers, a number of studies have found that minority students do better academically and are less likely to drop out when they have teachers of their own race or ethnicity.
Corey Moore, principal of the new Walnut Creek Elementary School in Southeast Raleigh, said one of his goals is to have at least one male minority teacher in each grade level. Moore accompanied Wake recruiters on some of the trips.
“It’s very important that in a school like Walnut Creek, the students see for themselves teachers who are representative of them,” Moore said.
(I'm working Saturday so I've got today off. I'm going to try not to look at the blog much today.)