ERIC Identifier: ED390875
Publication Date: 1996-02-00
Author: Lewis, Mark S.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.

Supply and Demand of Teachers of Color. ERIC Digest.

Total demand for new hiring of classroom teachers is projected to fluctuate through 1995, ranging from 187,000 to 209,000 needed annually. After 1995, demand is expected to increase to 227,000 by the year 2000 (Gerald & Husser, 1990).

At the same time, a number of national organizations have consistently stressed the importance of Black, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American role models for both minority and majority students (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education [AACTE], 1987; American Council on Education, 1988). While role models enhance a child's impression of what he or she is or can be, there is an even more important goal in securing a racially and ethnically balanced teaching population. Teachers of color bring with them an inherent understanding of the backgrounds, attitudes, and experiences of students from certain groups and therefore can help inform majority teachers on effective ways and means to communicate with students of color (Dilworth, 1990). It has also been pointed out that there is a tremendous value in diversity as it exists in a democracy: "diversity is not just an issue of color but a concept that encourages diversity of thought--the exchange of different ideas and ways to approach problems" (Michael-Bandele, 1993).

As the data show, there are significant disparities between the numbers of teachers of color and those of students of color. This digest will focus on the data and examine how well schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDE) are doing in supplying teachers of color for the nation's classrooms.


In 1990-91, 9.2% of public elementary and secondary school teachers were Black/African American, 3.1% were Hispanic, and 1% were Asian/Pacific Islanders (Snyder & Hoffman, 1994). The need for more teachers of color becomes evident when one looks at how student enrollment patterns in public elementary and secondary schools have altered the makeup of the classroom. From 1976 to 1990, the percentage of White students enrolled in such schools decreased almost 17% . In the same period, the enrollment of Black/African Americans decreased about 2% to a total of 16%, the enrollment of Hispanics increased by 68% to a total of 12%, and the percentage of Asian/Pacific Islanders enrolled increased approximately 158% to a total of 3% (Smith et al., 1994). Table 1 at the end of this Digest illustrates the discrepancies between the race/ethnicity of the teaching force, and that of the children being taught.


In 1988, a Metropolitan Life study predicted that teachers of color were leaving the teaching profession in disproportionately greater numbers than their White counterparts: "Overall, 40% of the minority teachers say they are likely to leave teaching over the next five years compared to 25% of non- minority teachers....Less experienced minority teachers are the most likely to say that they will leave. Fully 55% of minority teachers with less than five years of teaching experience say that they are likely to leave" (Harris & Associates, 1988). Actually, teachers of color in private schools left at a rate of 21.4% in 1987-88, while teachers of color in public schools left at a rate of only 4.4%. That attrition rate increased only slightly in 1990-91 (Bobbitt, Leich, Whitener, & Lynch, 1994).

The data indicate that the number of individuals receiving education degrees dropped throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Those decreases appear to have varied more dramatically for prospective teachers of color (see table 2).

There are a number of explanations for these decreases including the effects of competency testing and increased opportunities in other professional fields for African Americans and other people of color (Darling-Hammond, Pittman, Ottinger, 1987; Dilworth, 1990, 1984). Since 1987, enrollments have increased with White enrollments increasing 19.7%, African American 18.6%, Hispanic 28.7%, and American Indian/Alaskan Native 30.9%. The only ethnic group to see a decrease has been Asian/Pacific Americans who have decreased in enrollment by 10.5% (Snyder & Hoffman, 1994).

According to data collected by AACTE, enrollments for teacher education students of color have increased over the last 5 years, but not enough to keep pace with the dramatic changes in K-12 classrooms. In schools, colleges, and departments of education (SCDE), from 1989 to 1991, Hispanic enrollments increased by 44.1%, Native American/Alaskan Natives by 29%, Asian/Pacific Islanders by 22%, and Black/African American enrollments increased by 11.9% (AACTE, 1994). While teacher education enrollments have increased by 10% since 1989, in 1991, approximately 85% of teacher education students are White, 7% are Black, 4% are Hispanic, 1% are International/non-Resident, 0.5% are Native American/American Indian, and less than 1% are Pacific Islander and Alaskan Native.


Although more teachers of color are completing education degrees, the numbers are not keeping pace with the demographic changes in K-12 enrollments. "Recruiting Minority Teachers: A Practical Guide," outlines the "four C's of recruitment" as principles for SCDE recruitment efforts (AACTE, 1989):

* concern for the various aspects of the issue and a readiness to tackle them;

* commitment by the highest leadership to the recruitment program or project;

* collaboration among all those concerned about the problem, sharing information, resources, and responsibilities; and

* creativity in developing a program, being ready to combine strategies, piece elements of different programs, or even try something different.

There are annual conferences around the country that bring together those concerned with recruitment and retention to identify successful models and strategies (see Middleton et al., 1993). One such conference formerly hosted by the University of Kentucky, has now moved to the State University of New York at Oswego. Interested persons may contact National Conference on the Recruitment and Retention of Minorities in Education, SUNY Oswego, 200 Poucher Hall, Oswego, NY, 13126, (315) 341-2102.

Foundations are funding programs dedicated to the recruitment, retention, and graduation of students of color in teacher education. For example, the Ford Foundation has for the last 5 years, supported eight state consortia across the country, all working to increase the presence of students of color in teacher education programs. The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund's Pathways to Teaching Careers is designed to increase the numbers of teachers, especially minorities, working in public schools. Similar to the Ford Consortia program, the program recruits from a variety of pools, including paraprofessionals, and adults from non-traditional backgrounds. The two programs differ significantly: the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest program provides scholarship aid for tuition, fees, books, child care, and in some cases transportation; the Ford program is programmatic in nature, providing a variety of support services, and provides no financial aid to the students. Although these efforts are spread throughout the country, there is still little institutionalization of successful models within SCDEs or at the state level. Most efforts are concentrated through the efforts of one or more individuals who are personally committed to what they are doing. (Thomas, 1995).


References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and are in the ERIC database. Journal articles (EJ) should be available at most research libraries; most documents (ED) are available in microfiche collections at more than 900 locations. Documents can also be ordered through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (800) 443-ERIC.

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (1987). Minority teacher recruitment and retention: A public policy issue. Washington, DC: Author. ED 298 123

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (1989). Recruiting minority teachers. A practical guide. Washington, DC: Author. ED 315 416

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. (1994). Teacher education pipeline III: Schools, colleges, and departments of education enrollments by race, ethnicity, and gender. Washington, DC: Author. ED 369 780

American Council on Education. (1988). One-third of a nation. A report of the commission on minority participation in education and American life. Washington, DC: Author/Education Commission of the States. ED 297 057.

Bobbitt, S. A., Leich, M. C., Whitener, S. D., & Lynch, H. F. (1994, May). Characteristics of stayers, movers, and leavers: Results from the teacher followup survey: 1991-92. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. ED 374 134

Darling-Hammond, L., Johnson Pittman, K., & Ottinger, C. (1987). Career choices for minorities: Who will teach? Unpublished manuscript. Washington, DC: National Education Association, and Council of Chief State School Officers.

Dilworth, M. E. (1984). Teachers totter: A report on teacher certification issues. Washington, DC: Howard University/ISEP. ED 266 086

Dilworth, M. E. (1990). Reading between the lines: Teachers and their racial/ethnic cultures. (Teacher Education Monograph No. 11). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education and American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. ED 322 148

Gerald, D. E., & Hussar, W. J. (1990). Projections of education statistics to 2001: An update. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. ED 327 581

Harris (Louis) & Associates. (1988). The Metropolitan Life survey. The American teacher 1988: Strengthening the relationship between teachers and students. New York: Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. ED 305 357

Michael-Bandele, M. (1993). Who's missing from the classroom: The need for minority teachers. (Trends and Issues Paper no. 9). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education and American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. ED 352 361

Middleton, E., Bickel, F., Mason, E., Jones, D., Stilwell, W., & Frederick, A. (Eds.). (1993). The recruitment and retention of minorities in teacher education: Performance assessment. (Proceedings of the 7th national conference, January 17-19, 1993.) Lexington, KY: Center for Professional Development, University of Kentucky. ED 373 024

National Data Resource Center, (1993). 1990-91 schools and staffing survey, "teacher questionnaire." Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.

Smith, T. M., Rogers, G. T., Alsalam, N., Perie, M., Mahoney, R. P., & Martin, V. (1994). The condition of education, 1994. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. ED 371 491

Snyder, T. D., & Hoffman, C. M. (1994). Digest of education statistics, 1994. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. ED 377 253

Thomas, J. (1995). An action agenda: Policy issues in minority teacher recruitment and retention. Tallahassee, FL: Center for the Study of Teaching and Learning, Florida State University.

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