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Seventy-Five Education Organizations Sign on to Foundation’s Letter to DeVos on Teacher Diversity

June 3, 2019

The Association of American Educators Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational foundation supporting the mission of the Association of American Educators (AAE), a national non-union professional association, has sent a letter signed by more than seventy-five education organizations to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and leaders in Congress calling for their help in addressing the lack of teacher diversity in our nation’s classrooms.

The letter is dated May 22, 2019, and cites federal data and university studies, including reports that 53 percent of public school students are children of color, while only 18 percent of teachers identify as a person of color. Studies reveal this disparity causes overall lower student achievement and outcomes, especially in populations of at-risk students and students of color.

The letter states, “We believe that increasing teacher diversity elevates the teaching profession and improves the lives and outcomes of all students,” and calls on all parties involved to play a role in addressing the problem and volunteers the services of the undersigned organizations to help Congress and the Department of Education determine how proposed regulations and legislation may increase or decrease teacher diversity.

“Our teaching population is not reflective of the students they serve, which is no fault of the good women and men in teaching today,” explains Colin Sharkey, Executive Director of AAE and AAE Foundation. “We know this lack of racial diversity can have a devastating effect on the academic achievement of students of color and it means countless persons of color are discouraged from choosing education, which has a negative impact on the profession.”

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, was the first to join the effort. UNCF Vice President of K-12 Advocacy Sekou Biddle, who co-signed the letter with Mr. Sharkey, stated, “UNCF is dedicated to improving outcomes for African-American students to ensure they are well-equipped to enter and succeed in college; and we are committed to working with AAE to develop sound and effective solutions to diversify the teacher workforce.”

Seventy-five education organizations representing teachers, preservice teachers, school counselors, education staff, principals, superintendents, charter school leaders, education reformers, tutors, and teacher educators have signed the letter. The list of signatories includes National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Diverse Charter Schools Coalition, Educators Rising, Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, National Council for the Social Studies, National Association of Special Education Teachers, Organization of American Historians, American Association for Employment in Education, Association of Teacher Educators, American Association of Physics Teachers, Kappa Delta Pi, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Educators for Excellence.

Sharkey highlighted the variety of signatories, “That such a broad range of organizations can come together and endorse a single statement reflects the seriousness of the issue and the selfless commitment of the signatories to advocate for what is best for students.”

McKenzie Allen, AAE Foundation’s Director of Advocacy and an educator who taught at schools serving mostly students of color, reflected, “Sixty-five years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision we are still failing to provide an equitable education for all students, especially students of color. We can and must address this problem.”

“We believe the collective effort of these signatories and other organizations committed to this issue will lead to solutions improving pathways for the next generation of educators and addressing issues of morale, training, and support disproportionately impacting teachers of color but too commonplace for all teachers,” added Sharkey.

More information, including the full letter text, list of signatories, articles and studies cited in the letter, is available at  aaeteachers.org/diversity.

Source: Association of American Educators Foundation



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