Think back to your favorite teacher. Why did you like them so much? Was it the way they connected with you, or made you feel safe and cared for? Did they understand you, your culture, your values?
A great teacher, regardless of their background, builds meaningful relationships with their students and, through finding commonality, makes students feel accepted.
Students benefit when teachers reflect diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Research shows that students of color, taught by teachers of color, perform better on a variety of academic outcomes, including: school attendance, retention, standardized test scores, advanced-level course enrollment, discipline rates, high school graduation, and college enrollment.
Today, just under 50% of Connecticut students identify as kids of color, yet the teaching corps remains predominantly white (91%). This misalignment disadvantages kids of color and is fundamentally unjust.
Over the last four years, I have worked alongside policymakers, teachers and school systems to better understand the structural barriers and how to create an equitable system for teaching candidates in the state. You can read more about our work on Minority Teacher Recruitment and Retention here and here.
This year, ConnCAN’s working to clear the path for high-quality teaching candidates of color.
Here’s what we recommend for Connecticut:
- Reduce Student Loan Debt: Creating Finish Line grants and student loan forgiveness programs
- Increase Opportunities for Out-of-State Educators: Entering reciprocity agreements with all 50 states
- Align College Credits and Performance: Simplifying credit requirements and adjusting GPA thresholds
- Improve Access for Paraprofessionals & Support Staff: Expanding Alternative Routes to Certification (ARCs)
- Ensure that all educators and school leaders receive training in culturally responsive pedagogy
Together, these policy changes make the process for becoming a teacher, from start to finish, more equitable and just.
We also must understand that our educator workforce is highly-skilled, receptive to innovation and progress. In fact, many school districts have already made minority teacher recruitment and retention a top priority. And, with support from leadership, districts have integrated professional development and in-service opportunities on culturally responsive pedagogy and practice. We believe that all districts should do the same.
Governor Lamont has repeatedly made this goal a priority of his administration and I could not agree more. Until we build a workforce that reflects Connecticut’s ethnic, racial and cultural diversity, we will continue to fall short on our promise to young people.