Demographic Imperativeness: Critical Issues in Preparing Minority Teacher Candidates in Teacher Education

Demographic Imperativeness: Critical Issues in Preparing Minority Teacher Candidates in Teacher Education

Amy Yun-Ping Chen (Saint Louis University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0897-7.ch005
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This chapter examines the demand, struggle, and recruitment of minority teacher candidates in teacher education. The main goals of this chapter are to: 1) survey the impact of teacher demographics on student learning processes and academic achievements; 2) identify the promise and pitfalls of diversifying teacher candidates in preparation programs; and 3) provide a scholarly basis for future developments. The literature review begins with an exploration of demographic profiles in educational environments, especially in relation to culturally and linguistically diverse populations. The discussion then addresses the mismatch of demographics between students and teachers. Next, the potential harm from demographic disparities is discussed. The benefits and hindrances of minority teacher candidates in teacher education, such as cultural competence, role models, recruitment, selection, and retention, are examined as well. Finally, the challenges of preparing qualified minority teacher candidates in teacher education are highlighted.
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In the United States, the educational sectors have experienced dramatic changes in the demographics of student bodies (Aung, Divatia, & Akiyama, 2013; Angus & De Oliveira, 2012; Ukpokodu, 2007; Villegas & Lucas, 2002). Due to the increasing diversity of racial, ethnic, and economic groups in the country, the demand and quality of the teaching force in public schools have become more critical and complex. Although there are huge numbers of students from diverse backgrounds, the current teaching force tends to come from the mainstream population (Davis, 2009; Sleeter & Milner, 2011; Zumwalt & Craig, 2009). The disparity in the sociocultural backgrounds of teachers and the students they teach often results in deficit thinking, miscommunication, low expectations, inappropriate instructional strategies, and educational inequality (Ford, 2011, 2012, 2013; Gay & Howard, 2000; Gorski, 2013; Milner, 2013; Okoye-Johnson, 2011). Thus, these factors boost achievement gaps between white students and especially students of color on an academic, cultural, emotional, and social level (Goldenberg, 2013; Griner & Stewart, 2012).

In order to improve the quality of education and meet the needs of all students, teacher education should play a significant role in preparing highly qualified and effective teachers and equipping them with adequate knowledge and skills (Darling-Hammond, 2006; Gay, 2010; Villegas, 2009). Moreover, much research has indicated the urgency to recruit minority teacher candidates and provide them with educational support such as scholarship opportunities and student loans in order to diversify the teaching force and achieve the promotion of multicultural and social justice education (Aung, Divatia, & Akiyama, 2013; Haberman, 1995; Miller & Sylayeva, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Role Model: A teacher who shares similar backgrounds with students and motivate them to strive for greatness and realize their full potential as responsible adults.

Cultural Competence: The ability to interact with people from different cultures and the awareness to recognize people’ differences and to respect their perspectives.

Multicultural Education: “An idea or concept, an educational reform movement, and a process”, which aim to promote equity to each student regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, and languages ( Banks, 2013 , p. 3).

Achievement Gap: The difference between the academic performance of students from dominant and subordinate backgrounds.

Cultural Responsive Pedagogy: An educational approach that implements “the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them. It teaches to and through the strengths of these students” ( Gay, 2010 , p. 31).

Teacher Education: The program provides prospective teachers with required formal and professional preparation and equips them with adequate skills to teach future students for society.

Diversity: The differences in a multitude of characteristics, including race, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status, gender, language, religion, and sexual orientation.

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