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Diversifying Teaching Staffs an Uphill Battle

The Wake County school system in Raleigh, N.C., is on a mission to recruit male and minority teachers, reports the News & Observer. The paper, which covers Raleigh, notes that 50.5 percent of the students in the district are minorities, while 85 percent of the teachers are Caucasian.

Since Tony Tata took over as superintendent in January, the district has made an effort to reach out to historically black colleges and universities for recruiting. In the past two months, the district has hired 45 new teachers, 27 of whom are minorities.

Still, the paper reports that the district faces formidable challenges. "Teaching used to be one of the few respected professions that blacks could choose," according to Diane Scott, associate dean of the School of Education at N.C. Central University. But now, "young black students are increasingly choosing other professions."

Scott added that a "long-term approach" to help this situation would be for "school systems to groom more of their minority students to want to pick the profession."

The News & Observer also notes that Wake County's efforts to diversify their teaching force "mirrors efforts statewide and nationally to make the teaching ranks more representative of an increasingly diverse student enrollment." The paper points to legislation that San Diego Congresswoman Susan Davis introduced last April, which would give competitive grants to districts that set up recruitment programs to bring underrepresented groups into the teaching profession.

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