Category Archives: Diversity Resources

Teachers Of Color Vs. The Achievement Gap

Over the past 22 years, our program has been committed to the idea that students of color benefit from having teachers with whom they can identify. During this period, studies have emerged that have supported this idea.

The most recent to come to my attention was an academic study published by the Institute of Labor Economics. WSHU-FM, a public radio station in Southern Connecticut, recently aired a report on the study.

The study, by professors at American University, University of California-Davis, and Johns Hopkins University, examined the long-term impact of teachers of color on their demographic counterparts.

The professors acknowledged findings that black primary-school students with a same-race teacher perform better on standardized tests, but they went further. They concluded that a black male student with a black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grade is much less likely to drop out of high school, particularly among the most economically disadvantaged black males.

In addition, the study found, exposure to at least one black teacher in grades 3-5 also increases the likelihood that low-income students of both sexes will aspire to attend a four-year college.

This makes it all the more important to recruit and retain more teachers of color in Connecticut’s schools. Read the WSHU-FM report here.

  • Woody Exley

Discrimination Plays A Role In The Lack of Black Teachers  

New research indicates that racial discrimination is factor in the nation’s shortage of black teachers.

A Harvard Educational Review study looked at hiring patterns in a large public school district. In 2012, black and white teachers who applied for jobs in the unidentified district were equally qualified, the researchers found. But white teachers received a disproportionate number of job offers.

Only six percent of black job applicants received offers, whereas 77 percent of white applicants received offers. Black teachers were more likely to receive job offers from schools with black principals. And black teachers were more likely to by hired by schools with high rates of low-income and minority students.

The district hired Hispanic and Asian-American applicants at rates proportional to the number of applicants. The imbalance was unique to black teachers.

The study author and researcher, Diana D’Amico, said the school district was shocked by the results of the study. The district prided itself on its efforts to recruit minority applicants. Administrators had attributed the lack of black teachers to a paucity of black applicants.

The Huffington Post reported on the results of this study on April 12, 2017.



Meriden Has Sharp Focus On Diversity

The Meriden Public Schools have adopted a multi-tiered approach to recruiting and retaining more teachers of color.

The district’s strategy is featured in the November-January issue of Perspective, a magazine published by the American Association of School Personnel Administrators. Co-authors were three leaders of the Meriden Schools, Mark Benigni, Ed.D., superintendent; Louis Bronk, director of talent development; and Miguel Cardona, Ed.D., assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, and recipient of the Alma Exley Memorial Scholarship in 1998.

Meriden’s comprehensive approach encompasses external partnerships, in-district initiatives, teacher support programs and creative recruiting efforts.

Mark Benigni


Meriden partners with its local Regional Education Service Center (RESC) to organize minority teacher job fairs and arrange priority interviews for candidates who are most qualified and deemed best fits for the district. In another partnership with the RESC, participates in an annual  Future Educator Symposium. The event provides information on careers in education to male students in the 11th grade.

The district also partners with the local branch of the NAACP to combine efforts towards recruitment of minority hires. This has included attending Historically Black and College and University (HBCU) forums to learn about trends and strategies in minority recruiting. Plans are in the works to attend HBCU job fairs outside of Connecticut along with NAACP members.

In partnerships with local universities, interns are placed within Meriden’s schools. The district also houses student-teacher cohorts and undergraduate teacher-certification programs on the school campuses.

Louis Bronk

In-District Initiative

Meriden has developed a “Grow Your Own” initiative to increase the number of minority applicants. This program helps employees in the school system such as para-professionals to obtain teacher certification.

Teacher Support

A Teacher Support Program targets potential minority teaching candidates while they are still working towards their bachelor’s degree. This enables the district to hire college students as substitute teachers with a one-year substitute certificate granted by the state. This enables the substitutes to forge ties with staff and students.

Creative Recruiting

Administrators have the freedom to be proactive in recruiting minority candidates. Recently, a candidate from Puerto Rico was hired after a phone interview, and a candidate from New York City was hired after a Skype interview. This approach is based on the recognition that traditional hiring practices won’t achieve the results the students deserve.

Miguel Cardona

The Need for More Teachers of Color

These efforts are based on the general acknowledgment of the benefits of diversifying the teaching profession in Connecticut.  Although some 35 percent of Connecticut’s students are Black and Latino, the state’s teaching force is only seven percent Black and Latino.

Meriden’s educational leaders cite studies that have shown that academic achievement  improves when students of color are taught by teachers of similar backgrounds. They refer to one study that demonstrated that students of color achieve higher graduation rates, score better on standardized tests, and matriculate at colleges more often when they are taught by teachers of color.

Read the entire article from Perspective magazine.