- The Walton Family Foundation has awarded $790,000 to Teaching Excellence, a nonprofit program run by a Houston-based charter organization that offers a year-long alternative teacher certification and coaching program, The 74 reports.
- The funds will be used to train about 620 teachers in the next two years, at least 70% of whom will be teachers of color. The money will also be used to create other strategies for diversifying and retaining teachers in some charter schools and public schools in the Houston area.
- Such programs are needed because the percentage of students of color is expected to reach 56% by 2024 while only 20% of the nation’s teachers are persons of color.
The lack of sufficient diversity in the teaching workforce impacts education in a number of ways. Students of all races prefer diversity of teaching staff. Research also indicates that the lack of diversity can jeopardize student achievement and that students of color are more likely to achieve when they have a teacher who looks like them,
School districts are looking at ways to improve teacher diversity but face financial and other challenges. One approach that is gaining popularity is the use of alternative training programs that help people in other fields transition into the field of education. The Teaching Excellence program offers its own alternative certification pathway. Some experts also suggest that tests used for teacher licensing are biased against people of color, which further hinders efforts to increase diversity in the teaching field.