CBCF, AFT Look at Diversifying Nation’s Teacher Workforce

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) will bring together experts for a town hall meeting to examine Diversifying the Nation’s Teacher Workforce, Thursday, April 18, 2013, from noon – 3 p.m. at the Howard University Blackburn Center.

The panel will examine ways to effectively train teachers of all backgrounds to serve diverse classrooms and explore strategies to increase the number and capacity of African-American teachers. The panel will also tackle such issues as the impact of school closings on students and the community and federal and state educational policies’ effectiveness in preparing teachers.

Teachers comprise the largest professional occupation in America. Of the more than six million teachers in this country, nearly 80 percent are white and 77 percent are female. Considering the entire student body, the United States has one white female teacher for every 15 students and one black male teacher for every 534 students. The U.S. needs a teaching force that is drastically more diverse to represent the current demographics of the pre-school through grade 12 student population. However, more importantly, every teacher, regardless of race or gender, should be prepared to teach any student.

“Teacher performance should be based on a teacher’s ability not only to ‘teach’ a student, but to ‘reach’ a student,” said Ivory Toldson, Ph.D, senior research analyst for CBCF and a panelist at the town hall meeting. “An educator’s feelings toward their students and knowledge of their students’ cultures have significant impact on the learning process and the overall effectiveness of the classroom environment.”

The panel will include David Johns, executive director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans; Marietta English, vice president, AFT; Chance Lewis, founding executive director, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Urban Education Collaborative; Amy Wilkins, senior civil rights fellow, College Board and Dr. Toldson. The town hall will be streamed live on the CBCF Web site. Join the conversation on Twitter @CBCFInc and @AFTUnion #DiversifyEd.

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