Two recent articles – one in the Rutland Herald and another in the Burlington Free Press – reported on the release of the Vermont Teacher Diversity Report 2010.
The Burlington School District was identified in the BFP article as having made progress, hiring six new teachers of color this year. This is a major step forward for the district, and suggests there is energy behind its March 2009 diversity policy.
The leadership of key School Board members, the superintendent's stated commitment to this goal, and the indication that more will be done to diversify applicant pools this year and in the future is good news. Diversity Now welcomes this progress.
Generating a more diverse applicant pool for this year’s hires is important and doable. In the New England region alone, urban areas are more than 30% people of color. We can benefit from this rich diversity, should the district successfully network.
As we move forward, it will be especially important to increase the numbers of visible minorities around the table. Students of color (and white students) have an important need to see themselves in administrators, teachers, and guidance counselors. Hiring more teachers of color to reflect the changing complexion of our school district is one piece of the larger goal of ensuring a commitment to the high achievement for all of our district's school children.
As the Rutland Herald article notes, Vermont has 61 full- and part-time teachers of diverse backgrounds out of a total of about 7,000 teachers in the 43 districts that responded to the survey (60 districts were asked to participate). Bud Meyers, co-author of the report, is quoted by the Rutland Herald as saying;
“The report...says the numbers gathered over the last two years by the center are dangerously low…. The low diversity figure puts today’s increasingly diverse Vermont student body at a disadvantage, with many students unable to find someone of their ethnicity or color to relate to, and not seeing someone of a nonwhite cultural background in a position of power.”
All 43 districts that responded to the survey indicated that no strategies are being used to recruit diverse teachers. Burlington Superintendent Collins, however, noted that Burlington School District, which responded to the survey, is engaging in a host of diversity recruitment activities.