The diversity of students in this country is increasing, but the diversity of our teaching force is not. Just seven percent of our country’s teachers are Black. Yet research tells us that exposure to a Black teacher in elementary school can reduce the high school dropout rate for low-income Black male students by 39 percent.

There is also a related but largely unseen crisis: the number of underemployed and underpaid educators who can’t become full-time teachers because of systemic barriers. Again, kids are suffering because of this — but we can do something about it.

In five years of training residents at NTR, we’ve found many people with the potential to become amazing teachers if given the training, support and opportunity to do so.

Our system of teacher education continues to churn out disproportionately white teachers, publicly professing the need to do better at preparing teachers of color yet doing very little to change the racialized curricular and programmatic assumptions that have created the problem. Teacher education can be an antidote for systemic racism, but we must first recognize that it has also been both a symptom and a cause of it. Teacher residencies, while not a panacea, can provide a way to address these problems, by:

  • Embedding teacher candidates in paid positions where they can earn a salary while learning how to teach.
  • Deferring tuition until candidates are licensed and teaching full time.
  • Creating loan and emergency fund programs for candidates.
  • Better preparing candidates for licensure exams and rigorous academic standards.
  • Prioritizing the training of teachers of color and crafting coursework and programmatic structures that celebrate and empower them.

Read the full article about building diversity through equitable means by Randall Lahann at The Hechinger Report.