CEA Advisor: May June 2019

6 CEA ADVISOR MAY–JUNE 2019 DIVERSIFYING CREATING AND MOBILIZING A MORE DIVERSE TEACHING FORCE Though they make up more than 40 percent of Connecticut’s student population, African American, Latino, multiracial, and other racial minority children do not necessarily see themselves reflected in their teachers. Only eight percent of Connecticut’s certified teachers are educators of color. “CEA is working to diversify our teaching profession, and we’re doing that on a number of fronts,” says CEA President Jeff Leake. “From public policy to practice, our efforts include strengthening our teacher pipeline by identifying students of color with a potential interest in education careers and successfully passing legislation that brings more teachers of color into our ranks.” Future Educator Clubs Connecticut received an NEA Great Public Schools grant to create future educator clubs in high schools with high percentages of students of color. CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, who oversees the program, says, “We are not only encouraging more young people of color to explore careers in teaching but also actively supporting them in their pursuits.” CEA’s program is modeled after a successful “grow-your-own” pilot in West Hartford—Future Educators of Diversity—in which teacher mentors introduce students to topics in education, train them in leadership skills, and provide practical assistance as they apply to colleges. Nicholas is also working on securing college credits for high school students who participate. “Through partnerships with teacher preparation programs,” he says, “we can connect high school students to early college credit courses in the foundations of education. There is much we can learn from programs like West Hartford’s, and much we can accomplish by duplicating what works.” Ethnic Minority Scholarship CEA’s charitable arm, the Connecticut Education Foundation (CEF), awards scholarships to ethnic minority high school seniors and college students intending to enter the teaching profession in Connecticut. Second-year UConn student Dennis Carambot, who plans to teach math in East Lyme, the same district where he received his education, has been awarded his second CEF Ethnic Minority Scholarship in the amount of $2,000 to continue pursuing his career goals. He is one of eight Ethnic Minority Scholarship winners this year. Teacher Residency Programs CREC has developed a residency program that places highly qualified minority teaching candidates with active class practitioners— exemplary CREC teachers who will mentor and guide them in sound instructional practices. “The CREC Teacher Residency Program was developed and will be taught by CREC classroom teachers who understand what a candidate needs to create an effective learning environment,” says Lisa Cordova, president of the CREC Education Association. The program’s development was a joint effort of CREC teachers and district administrators, with support from CEA. Legislative Pathways to Minority Teacher Recruitment, Retention In testimony before legislators, CEA leaders, staff, and members advocated for passage of a bill that would recruit and retain minority teachers in Connecticut’s schools. Key provisions of the bill that is now a state law—An Act Concerning Minority Teacher Recruitment And Retention— include expanding teacher certification reciprocity with states that have similarly high standards; expanding mortgage assistance to teachers who graduated from public high schools, colleges, and universities that traditionally serve minority students; and removing subject-matter assessment requirements for teachers whose certification has lapsed in certain cases. “This legislation promotes innovative approaches to the recruitment and retention of teachers of color in Connecticut without compromising the high standards our state sets for its professional educators,” says CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas. (CEA has long been critical of initiatives promoted by corporate-run charter schools that try to bypass the state’s teacher certification system. These shortcut approaches allow charters to profit while shortchanging students and leaving educators unprepared to lead their classrooms.) Additional strategies CEA promotes include • Creating satellite campuses of historically black colleges and universities in Connecticut’s urban centers to attract minority students from across the U.S. • Student-teaching stipends for low- income students to offset tuition and living costs • Increasing the number of minorities who hold high-level decision-making positions at the Connecticut State Department of Education to reflect the demographics of the state’s public schools • State income tax exemption for teachers in Alliance Districts CREC Education Association President Lisa Cordova testifies before the State Board of Education about a new program to recruit, prepare, and train ethnic minority teachers. Scholarship winner Dennis Carambot is an aspiring educator. T o foster connections among minority teachers and spark dialogue about issues that affect both teachers and students of color, CEA and its Ethnic Minority Affairs Commission (EMAC) organize recreational and educational events outside the classroom that bring diverse voices and experiences together. Gathering around the table Nearly 40 educators met and mingled at the first-ever Hartford Regional Ethnic Minority Teacher Social hosted by CEA this spring. The event was an opportunity for teachers of color to network, discuss ways of diversifying a predominantly white teaching force, and explore avenues for becoming more involved at all levels of the union—from their local and state Associations to NEA. “This was a great event,” said CREC teacher Anjanee Wright. “I got to meet other educators I wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to meet because we work in different districts. It was a good opportunity to talk to each other.” “Our goal is to keep those conversations going,” said Leake. “We have a lot of work to do to increase the number of teachers of color to better reflect the student population in Connecticut, and this is one way of starting a meaningful dialogue.” Representing CREC and districts including Bloomfield, Manchester, East Hartford, West Hartford, and Windsor, FOSTERING CONNECTIONS… many of the teachers gathered said they have often been the only teachers of color in their schools. Elementary school teacher Brian Ozenne, who teaches at CREC’s Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Magnet School in Avon, acknowledged that he is no stranger to that sort of racial isolation. “This teacher social is an excellent idea,” said Ozenne. “In my building—and, in fact, anywhere I’ve ever taught—I’m the only African American male teacher.” “What’s great about this event,” said Bloomfield third-grade teacher Anitra Woodard, “is that CEA is looking for our feedback. They are asking us to get involved in our union and grow a more diverse teaching profession.” Deeper union roots Longtime CEA members whose roles have ranged from building rep and EMAC chair to Board member, teachers including Bloomfield’s Glenn “In my building—and, in fact, anywhere I’ve ever taught—I’m the only African American male teacher.” Brian Ozenne, teacher at CREC’s Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Magnet School, Avon

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