Career, Diversity, Education, Teaching

Shape Up – There’s an Ed-Talent Scout on Campus!


Well, it’s clear that someone at the New York Times read my last post on bringing more men to the teaching profession. While I focused on gender, the conclusion asked how we could make teaching more appealing across the board, and the Times kindly dedicated an entire “Room for Debate” segment to answering me.

So here you have it: Six educationists chimed to ask “What can be done to make a career in education more attractive to men and people of color?”

You may, of course, read the columns in their entirety, but here’s a quick tally of the most prominent suggestions:

Raise Status of Profession (4)

Get Better at Recruiting: (4)

Raise Beginning Salaries: (2)

More funding for teacher Ed: (1)

Vague musing about the job’s intellectual challenges: (1)

I was surprised that salaries didn’t top the list (though it came up more often in the comments section). I was unsurprised, however, to see a lot of talk about what we should do, and very little about how we could acheive it.

One exception was the topic of recruitment: The writers who discussed this issue gave specific, actionable suggestions ranging from recruiting at historically black/latino universities to simply finding ways to make the profession “cool and attractive.”

It got me thinking – do we really recruit in Education? I see Army recruiters at high schools, investment-banking scouts at colleges, and ads for Big Brothers/Big Sisters all over my social networks (Ok, ok, I’ll join!), but has anyone ever come up to you and said “Ever thought of changing the world from a classroom?”

And if they have, it was likely a representative from an alternative education program like Teach for America, City Year, or Americorps. Where’s everybody else?

Which brings us back to recruiting a more diverse teaching force. Say what you will about the alternative programs themselves, but they’ve been notably successful at getting more diverse teachers into classrooms, both in terms of gender and race. According to Education Week: 50% of this year’s TFA Corps Members identify as people of color as compared to 17% of teachers nationwide (as a frame of reference, students of color are right around 50%). These programs achieve this through conscious recruiting strategies.

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As Elisa Villanueva Beard, co-chief executive of Teach for America, mentions, “Ninety of the S&P 100 companies engage in specific diversity outreach efforts; in education, we need to do the same.”

So is recruitment the answer? Are traditional Ed programs finding ways to get out there as well? Could recruitment help, not only to diversify the profession, but also to attract more potentially excellent educators who just need a “Be All That You Can Be” type of nudge?

Also, feel free to add anything you think the columnists missed that would make the profession more appealing in general.


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