Editor’s Note: This will begin an on-going series featuring the proactive work Educators for Excellence (E4E) is doing in several regions throughout the country, enabling and empowering educators as they seek to impact substantial legislative progress in the service of a better education sector. More information, and ways to get involved, available at their website.
A LETTER TO MINNESOTA’S STUDENTS OF COLOR
To Minnesota’s Students of Color,
You don’t need a politician or an academic to tell you what makes a great teacher. If you think back to an amazing teacher you’ve had, she would most likely be described as someone who pushed you to do more than you thought you were capable of, and all the while made the challenges of learning fun. More than anything, we hope you have had the chance to feel the impact of a dedicated and talented teacher who both increased your skill levels, and your conﬁdence and interest in learning. We also hope you have the opportunity to learn from teachers who are not only great, but also share critical elements of your identity, such as race.
There is something indescribable about the impact ateacher of your own race can have on you. There are also quantiﬁable academic and social beneﬁts, which have shown us that diversity is a central tenet of a high-quality teaching force. It will likely not surprise you that your chances of having a teacher of color in Minnesota are slim.
From schools in Minneapolis to Worthington to Saint Cloud, your classmates increasingly represent the entire spectrum of diversity. Yet, your teacher population remains 96 percent white.We, a diverse team of educators, know that if something is important to you, it should be important to us. That’s why we have to do more than just hope; we must act.
We are committed to advocating for solutions that will help to diversify Minnesota’s teacher workforce. We’ve taken up this issue, studied, debated, and discussed the policies that impact teacher diversity for months. All the while, we’ve kept in the front of our minds why we chose this topic—because teachers of color can have a strong and positive impact on not just you, but all students.
We believe all students deserve the opportunity to learn from teachers of diverse backgrounds and to see what an asset diversity is within our society. We ask you to stand with us in urging policymakers to act both with hope and urgency so that you and all students have the opportunity to learn from educators who represent the same wonderful diversity that you bring to our classrooms
The Educators for Excellence - Minnesota 2015 Teacher Policy Team on Teacher Diversity