Writing in a National Association of State Boards of Education publication, faculty member Constance Lindsay makes a case for development of more “grow-your-own” teacher recruitment and training initiatives to increase diversity in the educator workforce.
In the September issue of The State Education Standard, Lindsay describes the lack of racial diversity among the teacher workforce and some of the impediments that cause it.
Lindsay advocates wider use of grow-your-own programs in which school districts identify, encourage, and support potential teacher candidates, partnering with teacher-preparation programs to help them achieve certification.
The article is part of a special issue of the journal devoted to the topic “The Role of Schools in Racial Justice.”
Lindsay has conducted research on policies and practices to close racial achievement gaps in education, with a current focus on teacher diversity and how to obtain a high quality, diverse educator workforce. She is a co-author of the recent book “Teacher Diversity and Student Success: Why Racial Representation Matters in the Classroom” which describes evidence from multiple studies — including ones conducted by the authors — that demonstrate the positive impacts of students having at least one teacher of the same race.
In the article for The State Education Standard, Lindsay describes the lack of people of color at all stages of the teacher development pipeline and how state and local policies can reduce some of the barriers for Black and Latino teacher candidates.
She suggests ways to change the career ladder for teachers.
She advocates for efforts to support prelicensure teacher candidates who have associate’s degrees, encouraging efforts in conjunction with university partners to develop them as teachers.
Lindsay also advocates for elevating the work and status of school paraprofessionals — such as teacher aides and instructional assistants — who are frequently more racially diverse than the teacher workforce.
She writes: “Seeing paraprofessionals as teacher apprentices marks a paradigm shift. Rather than exclusively relegating grading and behavior management to them, school leaders and lead teachers can purposefully assign them tasks focused on developing skills in such things as lesson preparation and leading instruction — much as student teachers receive.”
Lindsay writes that grow-your-own programs will need to partner with university teacher-preparation programs. Those universities should tailor programs that are more accessible to working paraprofessionals, she said.
She also encourages development of more teacher residency programs oriented toward early- and mid-career professionals interested in moving into teaching jobs.