- 37% of students are minorities; 9 of 10 teachers are white
- Students of color to be majority (54%) by 2050
- Call for $100 million for "model" minority teacher programs at minority-serving colleges
Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2000—A new report released by national education leaders cites an alarming racial disparity between students and teachers in our nation's schools that "threatens to impact the quality of education for all students." Nine out of ten teachers are white nationwide, while students of color represent 37% of elementary and secondary schools, the study states. Minority students will make up 44% of total school enrollments by the year 2020, and by 2050 the "minority" will be majority, at 54%.
Education leaders representing more than 320 colleges and universities call for a major shift in national education policy, with at least $100 million in Federal funds to support the "model" teacher programs of minority-serving institutions (MSIs). MSIs produce nearly half of all minorities with teaching degrees nationwide, the report states, and have "unparalleled success" in training and graduating them, despite being "chronically underfunded" and endangered institutions. The report, "Educating the Emerging Majority," was commissioned by the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, a coalition of MSIs representing Historically Black, Hispanic-Serving, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.
Enrollment of minority students in elementary and secondary schools has increased by 73% over the last 25 years, compared to 19% for white students. Minority enrollment in teacher education programs, however, accounts for only 15% of all students, while white students make up over 80%, an inequity due to "substandard" K-12 academic preparation as well as social and economic factors, the study cites. The disparity between students and teachers of color, states the study, adds to the overall crisis in both quality and shortages of teachers nationwide in elementary and secondary education.
The report strongly criticizes longstanding federal underfunding of MSIs and program evaluations that are "dangerously linked" to that funding using narrow outcome measures such as pass rates on licensure and certification tests. The report suggests these measurements unfairly endanger MSIs while ignoring their unique challenges, successes, and vital needs in developing minority teachers in response to these shortages.
Despite receiving 36% less funding than other colleges, MSIs award 46% of teacher education bachelor's degrees for African American students, 49% for Hispanics, and 12% for American Indians, far higher levels than the proportion of all minorities that these schools enroll (MSIs educate one-third of all minority students). In subject areas of high national need -such as math and science- these institutions produce 54% of bachelor's degrees for Hispanic students and 41% for African Americans. MSI's unique success in educating low-income, educationally disadvantaged students to be teachers, according to the study, is the result of keeping tuitions low, providing open admissions access, and offering unique cultural experiences within community-based settings.
Recommendations of the Alliance's report include:
- Target an initial $100 million in Federal resources to MSIs to improve the success of students of color in teacher education programs;
- Broaden quality assessments of teacher education programs to include incentive-based bonus grants that rely on a diverse set of criteria, not just single measures;
- Increase public investment in opportunities for students of color and low-income individuals by allocating a predetermined percentage of Federal budget surpluses to areas such as student aid, college awareness, and facilities;
- Raise the salaries of teachers to levels of other professions that make invaluable contributions to society;
- Develop partnerships among institutions serving students of color; and
- Conduct a national study to identify the factors that lead to changes in enrollment among minorities in teacher education programs.
The report, "Educating The Emerging Majority: The Role of Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities in Confronting America's Teacher Crisis," was produced by The Institute for Higher Education Policy, a Washington-based non-profit education research group and sponsored by the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education. The Alliance consists of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Support for the Alliance is provided in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
"We are losing the fight for the diversity of our nation's teachers and jeopardizing the very programs that can help us achieve it," stated Antonio R. Flores, President of HACU, Veronica Gonzales, Executive Director of AIHEC, and Henry Ponder, President of NAFEO, in a joint statement. "The severe shortage of teachers of color deprives minority students of role models and denies all students the benefits of a truly diverse educational experience. As a nation, we must invest in educating more teachers of color or run the risk of widening the racial, cultural, and economic gaps that endanger our collective future."