VEA Teachers of Color Summit: Building A Diverse Workforce

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Next Steps The Virginia Education Association looks forward to continuing our partnership with the Virginia Department of Education to increase the diversity of Virginia’s teacher workforce. Aside from our own work, we look forward to aiding in the implementation of the recommendations included in the report, “Teacher Diversity in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

BUILDING A DIVERSE WORKFORCE Recommendations and a Call to Action from the VEA Teachers of Color Summit

The VEA will engage stakeholders and decisionmakers in the development of specific strategies we can implement in Virginia to begin to change the tide of the recruitment and retention of teachers of color.

Acknowledgement VEA thanks the staff of the Virginia Department of Education for their focus on this important issue. We look forward to our future work together as partners.


A CALL TO ACTION The Virginia Education Association advocates for diverse, fair work environments for public school employees. To ensure a diverse workforce, we must address the large gap between the diversity of our student population and a teaching corps that is overwhelmingly white. The purpose of the Teachers of Color Summit, held by VEA in February 2017, was to bring light to the barriers and circumstances that prevent qualified teacher candidates from entering and remaining in the profession. We know that recruiting and retaining teachers has become more difficult in the last decade. Enrollment in teacher training programs has decreased by 35 percent since 2009. Even as the teacher pipeline is drying up, the rate at which teachers are leaving the profession exceeds 8 percent annually. That is twice the rate of high-performing countries like Finland or Singapore, and it is also higher than many other professions. Attrition rates for new teachers and teachers in high-poverty schools are even higher. Virginia needs a rigorous plan to slow down the attrition of our best teachers, and to elevate the profession so that our very best college students, once again, want to become teachers. While Virginia must face the overall teacher shortage head-on, there are unique challenges to diversifying our teacher workforce. The goal of the Teachers of Color Summit was to put a spotlight on these challenges. Even as we were reviewing feedback from the Summit, a study from George Mason University was released that showed evidence of hiring disparities between equally qualified black and white teacher candidates. Clearly, we have much work to do, and the Virginia Education Association will continue to shine a light on this issue and drive action in both policy and practice in our Commonwealth. This booklet provides recommendations gathered from Summit participants, and we present them as a step toward moving ahead. It is our sincere hope that federal, state, and local policymakers take these recommendations into consideration and incorporate them while enacting policies that support the proliferation of a vibrant teacher workforce.

Jim Livingston President, Virginia Education Association


Teachers of Color Summit | Call to Action


Average student loan debt of a Virginia college student upon graduation

Significant Student Loan Debt Repercussions VEA Summit participants consistently talked about high rates of student debt as a huge barrier to candidates considering the profession. Overwhelmingly, participants talked about the need to reform current student loan programs and to implement additional programs for those choosing to teach. On average, a Virginia college student will graduate with a burden of $30,000 - $50,000 in loans. Facing an average starting salary below $40,000, new teachers find repaying those loans increasingly challenging. Adding to the hiring challenge, some of the Commonwealth’s school divisions with the highest needs have starting salaries below $35,000. The cost of repayment—weighed against low starting salaries and slow growth once hired—is an important factor in the decrease of the number of students entering teacher preparation programs and the ability to retain new teachers. Research shows that how willing a college graduate is to enter a lower-paying profession is tied to the level of student debt they expect upon graduation. Oftentimes, teacher preparation programs are five years, further increasing a new teacher’s debt. When one considers the overall cost of teacher preparation and compares it to the average salaries, there is less likelihood college students will choose teaching as a profession. Adding to the problem are the limited loan protection and loan support offered to college graduates, especially in the public sector.

VEA Recommendations

• Expand the NEA Degrees Not Debt Program. • Initiate and support student loan reform legislation in Virginia including the Student Loan Bill of Rights and the Student Loan Ombudsman. • Expand loan forgiveness and incentive programs for students who choose to teach. • Expand the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan program.

About Our Work The Virginia Education Association held the inaugural Teachers of Color Summit in February 2017 in Richmond to bring attention to the critical shortage of minority teachers and to generate strategies to effectively recruit and retain teachers of color across the state. The 3-day convocation of students, teacher educators, K-12 and postsecondary administrators, retired educators, human resources professionals, community organizations, and policymakers engaged participants in a variety of discussions on topics such as mentoring minority students, equitable learning environments, and examining school policies and practices. The Summit offered professional development, networking opportunities, and collaborative thinking to examine the dearth of teachers of color and to illustrate the importance of increasing the number of teachers from under-represented groups. In addition to program features such as addresses by National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes and Virginia Teacher of the Year Dr. Toney McNair, Jr., students enrolled in teacher preparatory programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities attended the Summit and added valuable dialogue around loan forgiveness and assessments. At the conclusion of the Summit, participants made the following recommendations: • Study the entry and completion of teacher education programs • Create a pipeline to advance education as a career field • Provide mentoring and work-life-balance for teachers • Offer loan forgiveness to educators. This pamphlet further explores the findings from the Summit as we map the path forward.

VEA’s Commitment VEA members and staff are committed to addressing the recruitment and retention of teachers of color. What We Believe Minority and Male Teacher Shortage. The VEA believes that cooperative efforts should be undertaken to alleviate the minority and male teacher shortage in public schools. These efforts should include the areas of recruitment, hiring, training, and retention. Teacher Preparation. The VEA believes that pre-service teacher education programs should emphasize classroom practice and field-based experiences including classroom management techniques, practices compliant with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and strategies to address students with special needs. Teacher Recruitment and Retention. The VEA believes that strong recruitment programs should seek out committed and qualified people to join the teaching profession, including those presently under-represented in this profession. The VEA further believes that teacher retention depends upon meaningful decision-making power and respect being accorded the classroom teacher. The Association will also update our belief statements to encourage and support teachers of color in Virginia. Delegates Take Steps At the VEA’s annual convention in April 2017, delegates committed the VEA to these actions: • Encourage locals to “adopt” college and university SVEA chapters in their areas • Continue to address the critical shortage of minorities in Virginia’s education work force, particularly, among males


Teachers of Color Summit | Call to Action

• Create a task force of VEA members to develop recommendations and share those recommendations with stakeholders in Virginia to implement policies and programs to address the shortage.

The Challenges Presented by Teacher Licensure Requirements Participants at the VEA Summit singled out meeting teacher licensure requirements as one of the chief barriers hindering prospective teachers from entering Virginia classrooms.

VEA Recommendations

All instructional personnel in the Commonwealth of Virginia must hold a professional teaching license. There are several routes to licensure in the Commonwealth. They include completion of an approved teacher education program, completion of a career switcher program for persons who’ve already earned a 4-year degree, provisional hiring by a school division with completion of licensure requirements within 3 years, or reciprocity of teaching credentials for persons who are fully licensed, coming to Virginia from another state.

• Embed test preparation and study skills in teacher education curricula to increase teacher candidates’ chances of passing necessary tests and successfully meeting requirements set by the Virginia Department of Education.

Summit participants identified mandatory assessments as the biggest barrier to full licensure for teachers of color in Virginia. Current and prospective teachers lament the fact that missing the required cut score on any of the four required tests disqualifies otherwise qualified teacher candidates from moving forward in the teacher preparation and/or hiring process.

• Expand opportunities for Student Virginia Education Association members to have multiple forms of assistance with meeting licensure requirements, including workshops and trainings.

Currently, the Praxis Core is an admission requirement for the 36 teacher preparation programs in Virginia. After successfully passing Praxis Core, candidates must also pass the Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment, Reading for Virginia Educators and Praxis II specialty area tests. In addition to satisfactory completion of coursework in content and pedagogy, teacher candidates must meet a variety of additional requirements to become licensed to teach in our state. These requirements include professional assessment, mandated training in CPR, child abuse and neglect awareness, dyslexia awareness, and, for middle school civics and high school history and government teachers, a module on state and federal government. Criminal background checks and licensure fees are also required. Often, these additional requirements and the costs associated with them further hinder a teacher of color from earning a teaching license. 4

Teachers of Color Summit | Call to Action

• Develop partnerships between Virginia school divisions, university teacher preparation programs, and VEA local Associations, in which test preparation and other mandated trainings would be offered. Offer loan forgiveness to educators.



Rank held by teachers with advanced degree when their pay is compared to professions requiring similar training, including accounting, civil engineering, marketing, and nursing

Teacher Compensation Is a Barrier to Entry and Retention Salaries are not the only consideration driving the decision to enter (or leave) the teaching profession, but Summit participants were clear that they play a significant role for both white and non-white teachers. With many options available to them, prospective and current teachers face significant pay gaps.

teachers quit because of working conditions in their schools. In surveys, minority teachers who left the profession cited a lack of autonomy and input into school decisions, common complaints in struggling schools that have been placed under prescriptive “turnaround” models.

The average income for a U.S. worker with at least a fouryear degree is 50 percent higher than the average for a teacher with ten years of experience. In the 2015-16 salary ranking by, an experienced education major with a master’s degree ranked 241st in a list of advanced degrees, behind accounting, nursing, marketing, and civil engineering. Another study put pay for teachers with 10 years of classroom experience behind many non-college employees, including truck drivers, flight attendants, and sheet metal workers. The average sales manager doubles his income by mid-career; a teacher’s pay goes up about 25 percent by then. This salary structure forces many teachers to take on second or third jobs in order to make ends meet, and their budget must also account, in many cases, for paying off large student loans.

The strongest factors influencing minority teachers to remain in the profession, by far, are the level of collective faculty decision-making influence in the school and the degree of individual instructional autonomy held by teachers in their classrooms. Influence and autonomy, of course, are key hallmarks of respected professions.

Virginia’s average teacher salary ranks 32nd in the United States and is nearly $8,000 behind the national average. While Virginia’s General Assembly did pass legislation that would set a state policy of teacher’s salaries at or above the national average, the 2017 appropriation for salaries makes almost no progress towards that goal. Again, salary is not the only factor, but when one looks at the high cost of college and the increasing levels of student debt carried by minority students, salary does play a significant role in the decision to teach or not.

• Reduce the number of new teachers assigned to hard-to-staff schools.

Much research indicates that minority teachers are very driven to stay or leave the profession based on their working conditions. Minority teachers are employed at higher rates in schools serving disadvantaged students, but they also depart at higher rates because these same schools tend to be less desirable as workplaces. A recent study from The University of Pennsylvania confirms that minority 8

Teachers of Color Summit | Call to Action

21% 49% TEACHERS

VEA Recommendations

• Increase starting teacher salaries across Virginia.

• Implement and fund high-quality mentorship programs for teachers of color and new teachers. • Include time during the school day designated for mentorships.


Percent of Virginia teachers of color compared to Virginia students of color

Grow Your Own Programs Provide Pathway The Grow Your Own model aims to recruit teacher candidates from local communities, providing a pathway for students or other individuals to enter the teaching profession. Many programs focus on recruiting minorities to teach in underserved schools; they offer inclusive and cultural sensitivity curricula to relate to diverse students and communities and create positive learning environments. Once enrolled in a teacher education program, students receive intensive support during course work as well as mentorship once placed in a classroom. Students must demonstrate subject matter competence, knowledge of pedagogy, and teaching skill once assigned to a class. For new teachers, the school division is responsible for providing relevant professional development, time for the teacher to develop a deep understanding of how students learn, and ongoing instructional tools. Grow Your Own programs also target middle school and high school students. Educators Rising is one such program. Its mission is to cultivate highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path to becoming accomplished teachers, beginning in high school and extending through college and into the classroom. The approach is to spark an interest in the profession early and to sustain students with hands-on experiences on the path to become an accomplished teacher. Higher Education recruitment programs are another successful Grow Your Own concept. There are three such programs in Virginia: Call Me MISTER; African-American Teaching Fellows Program, and the Norfolk State University Future Teacher Academy. The Call Me MISTER (Men Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) program is located at Longwood University. It focuses on any student seeking an education degree, particularly African-American males. The African-American Teaching Fellows program assists future teachers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County to 6

Teachers of Color Summit | Call to Action

work in a diverse community. Program participants receive financial assistance/forgivable loans, professional support and Praxis-test preparation. The Future Teacher Academy at Norfolk State University has been successfully preparing prospective teachers for the Praxis Core examination through the School of Education’s Praxis Lab. Grow Your Own programs should be supported as a promising strategy to increase excellence and diversity in the new teacher pipeline.

VEA Recommendations

• School superintendents or human resources directors should conduct a survey to ascertain the number of current Grow Your Own programs in Virginia. • Legislators in the General Assembly should introduce legislation to implement a Grow Your Own program that provides funding and tuition. • Evaluate the effectiveness of Grow Your Own programs in school divisions with robust programs: o

Henrico County, Virginia


Chicago, Illinois


Washington, D.C.


Denver, Colorado

-35% Decline in teacher training program enrollment since 2009