ERIC Identifier: ED270527
Publication Date: 1986-04-00
Author: Webb, Michael B.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education New York NY.
Increasing Minority Participation in the Teaching Profession. ERIC/CUE Digest Number 31.
The number of new recruits to teaching is insufficient to meet present and projected needs, particularly among minorities. In 1974, 12.5 percent of full-time public school teachers were black (Froning, 1976). By 1983, the total of all minorities had decreased to 11 percent, despite widespread affirmative action during the period.
This trend has increased the possibility that a student may complete 12 years of public education without coming into contact with a minority teacher, thus distorting social reality for the child (Witty, 1982), denying the child successful minority role models, and suggesting that teaching is off limits to minorities.
One of the factors contributing to the decrease in minority teachers is that academically talented minorities now have more career choices available to them than in the past. These choices may offer greater financial rewards and better working conditions (Darling-Hammond, 1984). Low salaries and low occupational prestige are major reasons for difficulties in recruiting for the teaching profession (College Board, 1985). Other factors include restrictive bureaucratic controls, inadequate administrative support, and lack of opportunities for advancement (Darling-Hammond, 1984). Moreover, salaries and working conditions are often least attractive in schools with predominantly minority enrollments, where minority teachers might be interested in working.
The collapse of the teacher job market in the 1970s may also be shrinking the talent pool now available. The previous lack of good job possibilities for teachers may be continuing to lead potential recruits away from the profession, for they still may believe that there is a surplus of teachers (Witty, 1980).
Of course, minorities cannot become teachers unless they graduate from college. But education enrollment rates of blacks and Hispanics, which had been increasing, are now declining. Fewer minority students are entering college because of (1) less available financial aid; (2) the lack of a perceived relationship between a college degree and a good job; and (3) inadequate high school counseling, which leaves students ill-prepared for entering and succeeding in college (Hodgkinson, 1985; Ramon, 1986). Recruitment efforts also influence access to higher education (Crabtree, 1983).
Though black colleges historically have produced more than half of the nation's black teachers, their teacher training programs are being threatened (Wright, 1980). Many black schools and their education departments may lose their accreditation because they do not meet recent state mandates that a prescribed percentage of graduates pass competency tests. Since 1978, the number of new teachers produced by 45 predominantly black colleges has declined 47 percent (American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, 1983).
Public concern over the quality of education has led to increased emphasis on teacher competency testing, although such tests have not been shown to predict effective teaching (Pugach & Raths, 1983). In states with competency testing, the failure rate for blacks and other minorities is two to ten times higher than that of whites (College Board, 1985; Gifford, 1985; Goddison, 1985). As minorities become aware of these statistics, they may reject a teaching career altogether, or at least reject states with competency testing (Hackley, 1985).
The high rate of test failure for minorities reflects two critical conditions: a lack of interest in teaching by minority students who could easily pass the tests, and the general failure of education to teach students to read with comprehension, write clearly, and perform routine mathematical computations (Gifford, 1985; Witty 1982). It is possible also that the standardized tests are biased against minorities and low income students (Mercer, 1983).
Ironically, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 may have contributed to the declining participation of minorities in teaching. Ethridge (1979) and Smith (1984a) note that the decision was followed by the loss of thousands of teaching jobs that would have gone to minorities under a segregated system, but which went to whites under the new integrated system.
Seniority and tenure provisions won by teacher unions have also contributed to the loss of teaching positions held by minorities. Those dismissed during periods of enrollment decline and fiscal restraint are usually those with least seniority, and frequently those most recently hired are minorities (Encarnation & Richards, 1984; Trammer, 1980). Further, Gehrke and Sheffield (1985) show how the decision about whether to lay teachers off in an urban school district or to place them in another content area was resolved more frequently in favor of white males than women and minorities.
In the past, major government-supported programs such as compensatory education and bilingual education increased minority teacher employment. The recent federal and state movement toward incentive grants and tax incentives may serve to diminish the direct and positive effects of government aid on minority employment by limiting or eliminating programs in which there is a high concentration of minority teacher employment (Encarnation & Richards, 1984).
To increase the number of minority recruits to the teaching profession, state reform initiatives should address the effects of educational deprivation resulting from weak programs in elementary and secondary education, which leave many minorities unprepared for a teaching career (Hackley, 1985; Hoover, 1984; Witty, 1982).
A special university-based preprofessional teacher preparation program would identify and recruit minority high school students interested in a teaching career (Gifford, 1985).
Financial incentives - scholarships, forgivable loans, etc. - would also attract talented students to teaching. Other proposals include more effective counseling when career decisions are being made, better minority recruitment efforts, and flexible admissions procedures in teacher preparation programs (Hackley, 1985; Mercer, 1984; Smith, 1984b).
Schools of education and teacher training institutions can play an important role in efforts to train minority teachers from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Several historically black colleges, notably Coppin State College and the University of Arkansas, have been successful in developing teacher education programs that emphasize early assessment to diagnose skills deficiencies brought from elementary and secondary education, and to provide appropriate tutorials, remediation, and workshops in test-taking techniques (Cooper, 1986; Hackley, 1985).
FOR MORE INFORMATION
American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. AACTE BRIEFS. Washington, DC: American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, May, 1983.
College Board. EQUALITY AND EXCELLENCE: THE EDUCATION STATUS OF BLACK AMERICANS. New York, NY: College Board, 1985. ED 256 844.
Cooper, C.C. "Strategies to Assure Certification and Retention of Black Teachers." JOURNAL OF NEGRO EDUCATION 55(1) (1986):46-55.
Crabtree, V.C. AN INQUIRY INTO STUDENT RECRUITMENT EFFORTS AND ATTITUDES OF 245 SCHOOLS, COLLEGES AND DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION FROM THREE TYPES OF INSTITUTIONS AND OF FOUR SIZES. 1983. ED 237 467.
Darling-Hammond, L. BEYOND THE COMMISSION REPORTS: THE COMING CRISIS IN TEACHING. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 1984. ED 248 245.
Encarnation, D.J., & Richards, C.E. SOCIAL POLICY AND MINORITY EMPLOYMENT IN PUBLIC, CATHOLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance, 1984. ED 246 530.
Ethridge, S.B. "Impact of the 1954 Brown vs Topeka Board of Education Decision on Black Educators." THE NEGRO EDUCATIONAL REVIEW 30(4) (1979):217-32.
Froning, M.L. EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY IN THE SCHOOLS: JOB PATTERNS OF MINORITIES AND WOMEN IN PUBLIC ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS, 1974. Research Report No 51. Washington, DC: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1976.
Gehrke, N., & Sheffield, R. "Career Mobility of Women and Minority High School Teachers during Decline." JOURNAL OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN EDUCATION 18(4) (1985):39-49.
Gifford, B.R. A MODEST PROPOSAL: INCREASING THE SUPPLY OF MINORITY TEACHERS. 1985. ED 260 027.
Goodison, M. "Testing the Basic Competencies of Teacher Education Candidates with the Pre-Professional Skills Tests (PPSI)." Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, April, 1985. ED 260 117.
Hackley, L. "The Decline in the Number of Black Teachers Can Be Reversed." EDUCATIONAL MEASUREMENT: ISSUES AND PRACTICE 4(3) (1985):17-19.
Hodgkinson, H.L. ALL ONE SYSTEM: DEMOGRAPHICS OF EDUCATION, KINDERGARTEN THROUGH GRADUATE SCHOOL. Washington DC: The Institute for Educational Leadership, Inc., 1985.
Hoover, M.E. "Teacher Competency Tests As Educational Genocide for Blacks: The Florida Teacher Certification Examination." THE NEGRO EDUCATIONAL REVIEW 35(2) (1984):70-77.
Mercer, W. "Teacher Education and Admission Requirements: Alternatives for Black Prospective Teachers and Other Minorities." JOURNAL OF TEACHER EDUCATION 35(1) (1984):26-29.
Pugach, M.D., & Raths, J.D. "Testing Teachers: Analysis and Recommendations." JOURNAL OF TEACHER EDUCATION 34(1) (1983):37-43.
Ramon, G. COUNSELING HISPANIC COLLEGE-BOUND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. Urban Diversity Series No. 92. New York, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1986.
Smith, G.P. "The Critical Issue of Excellence and Equity in Competency Testing." JOURNAL OF TEACHER EDUCATION 35(2) (1984a):6-9.
Smith, G.P. THE IMPACT OF COMPETENCY TESTS ON TEACHER EDUCATION: ETHICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES IN SELECTING AND CERTIFYING TEACHERS. 1984b. ED 254 493.
Trammer, M.D. "Teaching: The Profession Blacks May Lose." BLACK ENTERPRISE (Feb., 1980):69-72.
Witty, E.P. PROSPECTS FOR BLACK TEACHERS: PREPARATION, CERTIFICATION, EMPLOYMENT. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education. 1982. ED 213 659.
Wright, S.J. "The Survival of Black Public School Teachers: A Challenge for
Black Colleges and Universities." In PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL INVITATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON PROBLEMS, ISSUES, PLANS, AND STRATEGIES RELATED TO THE PREPARATION
AND SURVIVAL OF BLACK PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS, ed. E. Witty. Norfolk, VA: Norfolk
State University School of Education. 1980. ED 212 565.
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