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
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,
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;
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,
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
Mercer, W. "Teacher Education and Admission Requirements: Alternatives for
Black Prospective Teachers and Other Minorities." JOURNAL OF TEACHER EDUCATION
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
Witty, E.P. PROSPECTS FOR BLACK TEACHERS: PREPARATION, CERTIFICATION,
EMPLOYMENT. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education. 1982. ED
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.