Addressing the Shortage of Teachers of Color: Community Colleges' Role in the Pre-Service Teacher Pipeline

Addressing the Shortage of Teachers of Color: Community Colleges' Role in the Pre-Service Teacher Pipeline

David A. Byrd (University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, USA) and Dave A. Louis (Texas Tech University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8481-2.ch010
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To address the higher education access gap, post-secondary institutions must be aware and address the shortage of teachers of color in K-12 education. Within this chapter, the authors argue that community colleges must play an inherent role in identifying and preparing the new generation of teachers who identify as racially or ethnically under-represented in the field. Evidence of the teaching shortage along with workable strategies are presented to help administrators both understand the current shortage and ways to medicate the lack of diversity in the K-12 teaching force.
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America is on the verge of relinquishing its competitive advantage as the leader in the world’s economy. Friedman (2007) referred to this loss as the quiet crisis when he wrote, “There is nothing about the flat world – nothing – that Americans cannot handle, as long as we roll up our sleeves, educate our young people the right way for these times, and tend to and enrich the secrets of the sauce” (p. 336). Enriching the sauce should address the higher education access gap by improving the retention and graduation rates of our under-represented populations and supplying qualified diverse teachers for our lowest performing public schools. Without a diverse teaching force, K-12 students of color will continue to suffer from a lack of role models, educational opportunities, and career limitations (AACTE, 1989). Unfortunately, as one group of authors found, “an overwhelming majority of teachers are White, female and from the lower middle class socioeconomic strata, while their students in many urban educational settings have become more racially and ethnically diverse from the lower socioeconomic strata” (Lewis, Bonner, Byrd, & James, 2008, p. 226).

Demographics in American public schools have changed significantly in recent decades and education policy has not kept pace with the lack of access suffered by urban populations, low socioeconomic students, and students from under-represented racial and ethnic backgrounds (Kozol, 1991; 2005). Douglass (2006) provided a keen overview of this situation:

Low access and degree rates mean, of course, a long-term exclusion from the mainstream of American economic and social life – a pattern experienced, for a variety of causes, by a significant portion of African Americans. Nationally, only 14.7% of Chicano/Latinos have earned either an associate or higher degree; for African Americans, the number is 20.0%; and for Asian Americans and Euro-Americans the number is 50.5% and 33.6% respectively. (p. 9)

These numbers are particularly concerning when one considers that all certified teachers in the United States must first complete an undergraduate degree. To address the critical shortage of under-represented teachers, we must first address the higher education access gap.


The Teaching Shortage

It was reported in 2003 that the United States would need to hire 2.2 million new teachers in the next decade (Howard, 2003). Howard cited increasing retirements of current teachers, a growing student population, the development of new classroom policies such as mandated class sizes, and the attrition rates of many certified teachers as the primary causes for the proposed teaching shortage. However, many of those estimates either fell short or never developed because a beleaguered economy prevented many of the retirements from occurring.

Many researchers would have the public believe that there is in fact not a teaching shortage. At the 2002 Symposium of The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), the Commission published that the problem with teaching shortages is more a problem with attrition of prepared teachers than the recruitment of new pre-service teachers (NCTAF, 2002). A major criticism of this report is that it makes bold statements that the supply of new teachers is adequate to meet the existing demand, but it does not address the shortage of teachers of color or the lack of teachers pursuing certifications in the high need fields of Math, Science, Special Education, or Bilingual Education.

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