Category Archives: Diversity Resources

Articles and research on diversity in education

Educational Pathway for Future Teachers of Color

Connecticut is seeing results from the Teacher Residency Program, which the state launched in 2019 to increase educator diversity.

Gov. Ned Lamont recently met with state and local officials at an elementary school in New Britain to celebrate the program, one of numerous initiatives in Connecticut to bring more teachers of color into the state’s classrooms.

New Britain Superintendent Nancy Sarra welcomes Gov. Lamont and other state officials to Northend Elementary School.

“I think our schools are great. . . because we celebrate our teachers,” he said. “We love our teachers. We let our teachers teach, and we show the respect we need to generate and attract the next generation of teachers. “

Pathway to Teacher Certification

The Teacher Residency Program provides a pathway to teacher certification to individuals with bachelor’s degrees, many of whom are working in schools in non-certified roles, such as para-educators.

These individuals take college courses for 18 months (summer and evenings) and work for one year side-by-side with a mentor teacher while earning pay and benefits. They become eligible for a full-time, elementary teaching position in a partner school district upon completing the program and certification requirements.”

45 Residents for Next Year

The class of 2020 had 11 residents, including Blacks, Latinos, and mixed-race individuals. The Class of 2021 had 14 Black and Latino residents. The class of 2022 will have 45 residents, including Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, whites, and mixed-race individuals.

“The data says all children in this country learn better when they’re taught by a diverse teaching population,” said State Senator Douglas McCrory. “So, if we want to be one of the best states in this country or educating our children, we need to follow the data and make sure we diversify our classrooms.”

The Teacher Residency program is planning to place 45 resident, pre-service teachers in four to six schools in 2022-2023.

Last year the State Department of Education met its five-year goal for persons of color to make up 10 percent of public-school educators. But state leadership wants to make more progress as students of color account for nearly half of the state’s public-school students.

Subsidized Loans for Teachers in Highest Need Districts

Gov. Ned Lamont has signed a bill into law that will subsidize interest rates on loans to teachers who commit to teaching in one of Connecticut’s highest need school districts.

Gov. Ned Lamont signs the bill accompanied by Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, Rep. Jason Doucette, and Rep. Tom Delnicki.

The loan subsidy program is among state initiatives to address persistent shortage areas and support the recruitment and retention of teachers in districts that typically experience high turnover. This is one of the steps being taken to build an educator workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of Connecticut’s students.

CHESLA, the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority, will administer the Alliance District Teacher Loan Subsidy Program. The 33 Alliance Districts are those with the highest need for state support.

Gov. Lamont was joined by educational leaders and legislators who spoke a signing ceremony at the State Department of Education (SDE) in Hartford.

Dr. Shuana Tucker welcomes attendees to the State Department of Education.

Dr. Shuana Tucker, chief talent officer at the SDE, noted the progress made in recent years in diversifying the state’s educator workforce. During the past five years, Connecticut school districts have hired 1,900 educators of color, increasing the number of educators of color from 8.3 percent to 10 percent.

 “While we have made progress in our diversification efforts, there is still more to be done,” Dr. Tucker said. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue addressing barriers that may prevent some from pursuing or entering the education profession.”

Before signing the bill into law, Gov. Lamont said, “By establishing this student loan subsidy program, we are building upon and accelerating our efforts to cultivate and support the next generation of highly effective and diverse aspiring educators.”

Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker praises the law.

Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said, “The Connecticut State Department of Education has made it a priority to make sure that our districts and schools are able to recruit and hire high-quality educators who are reflective of our increasingly diverse student body.”

Jeanette W. Weldon, executive director for CHESLA, said, “This legislation is an example of the unique way that CHESLA can impact workforce and community development. As the state-affiliated student lender in Connecticut, we can share the benefits of our low-cost funding with state residents in ways that also benefit Connecticut communities and school districts.”

The Alliance Districts are Ansonia, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Derby, East Hartford, East Haven, East Windsor, Groton, Hamden, Hartford, Killingly, Manchester, Meriden, Middletown, Naugatuck, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Putnam, Stamford, Thompson, Torrington, Vernon, Waterbury, West Haven, Winchester, Windham, Windsor, and Windsor Locks.

Rep. Hayes Sees Benefits From Educator Diversity

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-Waterbury) made a strong case for increasing educator diversity in remarks at the 25th celebration of the Alma Exley Scholarship Program.

Speaking via video, Rep. Hayes congratulated the 2020 and 2021 Alma Exley Scholars, Marquis Harris and William T. Saunders II, who both hail from her hometown of Waterbury.

Rep. Jahan Hayes

“Together,” she said, “these two young men represent a great hope that the educators and leaders of our schools in the communities of highest need come from those very same communities.”

Mr. Harris and Mr. Saunders are good examples of that. Mr. Harris, a graduate of the University of Saint Joseph, plans to teach at his alma mater, Wilby High School, in the fall. Mr. Saunders teaches at Achievement First Hartford High School, with 100 percent students of color, while pursuing his master’s degree in the Relay Graduate School of Education.

Marquis Harris

“Far too many of our students go through their entire K-12 academic careers without ever having a teacher of color,” Rep. Hayes said. She added that it is a top priority for her in Congress to help build diversity in the education workforce and incentivize students to become educators.

William Saunders

“Teachers of color help to close the achievement gaps for students of color,” she said. “They improve attendance and increase aspirations of attending college.” Studies have shown clear evidence that a diverse teacher workforce improves students’ academic achievement, especially for students of color, she added.

Legislation To Boost Diversity

“That’s why I introduced the Save Education Jobs Act and the Teacher Diversity and Retention Act,” she said, “to protect against job losses and increase the number of classroom teachers and specialized instructional support personnel in schools and to build out the educator pipeline at HBCUs (Historical Black Colleges and Universities) and minority-serving institutions.”

“I introduced these bills because they will expand teacher-preparation programs to provide dual certification in special education, social and emotional service competencies and behavior management so that teaching candidates are better prepared to meet the needs of students in all communities.”

She said increasing educator diversity is especially important in Connecticut, where just 10 percent of educators are people of color compared to nearly half of our state’s public school students. What’s more, she said, over 27 percent of schools in Connecticut have no teachers of color while 17 percent of students in the state have no teachers of color in their schools.

A Sense of Urgency

Encouraging students of color to become teachers has never been more urgent than during a time of unprecedented learning loss due to Covid-19, when schools need all the tools they need to reach students, she said.

“Looming layoffs from strained municipal budgets threaten to further exacerbate teacher shortages and challenge efforts to attract and retain a diverse teacher workforce and compound the generational consequences of this crisis,” she said.

“At a time when we are at a reckoning for racial justice and the ever worsening problem of the teacher shortage crisis is looming, every investment in the pipeline is essential,” she said.

“So thank you for providing this scholarship to our most needed students and the most deserving candidates,” she said. “Thank you again to Marquis and William for your commitment to the education profession, and congratulations again on this scholarship. We need you so bad in the educator pipeline.”

  • By Woody Exley