Minority Groups Remain Outnumbered at Teaching Programs, Study Reports

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Despite major changes in the racial makeup of American public school students, the people training to be teachers are still predominantly white.

According to a study being released Wednesday by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, which represents colleges and universities with teacher certification programs, 82 percent of candidates who received bachelor's degrees in education in 2009-10 and 2010-11 were white.

By contrast, census figures show that close to half of all children under 5 in 2008 were members of a racial or ethnic minority.

"We're finding that college-bound minority students have so many career options," said Sharon P. Robinson, the president of the association. "We have to develop some specific recruitment strategies to attract our share of those students into those teacher education programs."

Even in programs that award teaching certificates to candidates who do not obtain full education degrees, 76 percent of the students are white.

Ms. Robinson said the recruiting problem was compounded by the fact that minority students in general were not enrolling in college at as high a rate as white students.

The study, which surveyed close to 700 colleges and universities that train just under two-thirds of new teachers, also found that few candidates graduate with credentials to teach math, science, special education or English as a second language, all subjects that experts say are increasingly important to prepare students for jobs and to meet the demands of an increasingly diverse student population.

It is particularly difficult to recruit qualified mathematicians and scientists as teachers because they can earn much higher salaries in other professions.

"In their first year as an engineer, they'll earn more than a teacher will ever earn over a 30-year career," said Rick Ginsberg, the dean of the School of Education at the University of Kansas.

Ms. Robinson said she feared that recent changes in public education policy as well as statements about failing schools could deter candidates. "We've been through a phase where all the target for fixing everything is to change out the teachers," Ms. Robinson said. "So we are finding recruitment is down in educator preparation programs."

The study found that although teacher preparation programs may have relatively low eligibility requirements, candidates who enroll have strong academic records.

Candidates for bachelor's degrees in education had a mean grade point average of 3.24, well above the average entrance requirement of 2.6.

The study does not cover programs like Teach for America that recruit college graduates and put them in classrooms without education degrees or certificates.

education

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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