Legislators from the Senate and House held a press conference this week to introduce legislation aiming to increase the percentage of teachers of color and American Indian teachers (TOCAIT) in Minnesota classrooms.
The comprehensive legislation expands existing pathways to teaching, strengthens efforts to retain effective teachers, and provides incentives to attract more students of color into the teaching profession with scholarships and student teaching grants to complete their preparation programs. Over 1,700 teacher candidates and more than 1,300 TOCAIT would be supported by the legislation that the bill authors say is designed to finally start “moving the needle.”
The research is clear – all students benefit from receiving instruction from teachers of color. Yet the 2019 Minnesota Teacher Supply and Demand Report indicates that the percentage of teachers of color has remained stagnant at 4%, while the percentage of students of color continues to grow rapidly in Minnesota and is now 34%.
Advocates say this is the most comprehensive racial equity proposal in education to close gaps that the state has seen. Lawmakers and the governor need to urgently address the unmet needs of one-third of the state’s students and do what is needed to increase the percentage of TOCAIT so students have equitable access to diverse teachers.
Breaking down barriers for people of color and American Indians to become teachers is an important part of fostering a productive, inclusive learning environment. The state knows that when educators reflect the diversity of their students Minnesota will truly be more successful in narrowing achievement and opportunity gaps. (SF 1012)