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The Struggle to Recruit Minority Teachers

An Associated Press story this week said the Tucson school district has launched a $550,000 effort to recruit more minority teachers with the hope of diversifying its staff and giving minority students a better chance of seeing themselves as part of the education system.

Not surprisingly, the move is spurred by the fact that the district sees a disconnect between the numbers of teachers belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups and students from these groups.

Districts have for decades worried about the difficulties of attracting minority teachers, and some have launched aggressive efforts to do so. Many observers have weighed in on how this can be done, including the National Education Association.

But in recent years, some of the newer recruitment programs and teacher-preparation pathways have had success in this area.

I have a story this week about the Boston Teacher Residency, a yearlong, highly selective preparation route that enrolls more than 50 percent of minority candidates each year. It offers candidates a strong focus on classroom experience. Candidates get a stipend and don't have to pay their tuition if they stay in Boston's schools for three years after graduation. Residency programs have become so popular, Sen. Barack Obama has included them in his education plan. You can read more about the Democratic presidential nominee's plan from my colleague Alyson Klein here.

Meanwhile, alternative-preparation programs like the New Teacher Project have shown that aggressive recruitment and the removal of bureaucratic hurdles can help bring in minority candidates.

School districts struggling with recruiting minority teachers might want to take a closer look at what it is these programs are doing.

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