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Maryland District Embarks On Teacher-Diversity Effort

The Montgomery County school district, with input from its teachers' union and adminsitrator groups, has crafted a strategic plan to increase the number of teachers of color it hires. 

Among other efforts, it says that the district must improve its recruiting, selection, and retention efforts, and begin taking a harder look at its talent pipeline. 

"For a number of years, we have worked to recruit and develop teachers of color and others underrepresented in our current workforce, but our teacher diversity has increased only slightly,
with white teachers comprising more than 76% of the total teacher workforce in 2014," down from about 80 percent in 2004, the plan says. "... We must—and we can—do better." 

The district's K-12 student population is now 69 percent nonwhite. The district's mismatch between student population and teaching force reflects that of the United States, in which more than half of students are students of color, compared to less than 20 percent of teachers.

There's a lot in this report to consider, but here are a few highlights.

For one, the district wants to audit its hiring process to "eliminate any systemic barriers" to hiring teachers from diverse backgrounds. It's well documented that hiring timelines can make or break a district's ability to get teachers with top credentials; it will be interesting to see whether making adjustments to that can also affect the demographic make-up of the teaching force. The district also wants to develop a program for graduating high school seniors from underrepresented groups to get them interested in returning to the district to teach, and to increase the number coming in through its alternative-certification pathway.

And finally, the district wants to establish partnerships with the real estate and business community to promote affordable housing options for teachers. The Washington metropolitan area--where Montgomery County is located--has one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

We'll be watching the district's progress with interest.

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