Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) joined Representatives Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), and Alma Adams (NC-12) to reintroduce the Teacher Diversity and Retention Act to invest in and expand the United States’ diverse teacher workforce. This bill would authorize two grant programs to fortify teacher recruitment and training programs. The first would provide an infusion of funds for teacher training programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The second would expand teacher preparation programs that provide dual certification in special education, social and emotional learning competencies, and behavior management so that teaching candidates are better prepared to meet the needs of all students. According to the Education Trust, over 27% of schools in Connecticut have no teachers of color, while 17% of students in the state have no teachers of color in their schools.
“During a time of unprecedented learning loss throughout COVID-19, it is essential that schools have all the tools necessary to reach students. Looming layoffs from strained municipal budgets threaten to further exacerbate existing teacher shortages, challenge efforts to attract and retain a diverse teaching force, and compound the generational consequences of this crisis. Teachers of color help to close achievement gaps for students of color,” said Congresswoman Hayes.
“The bill we are introducing today will help to fortify the pipeline to strengthen and diversify the educator workforce, helping to ensure that teachers reflect the communities and students they serve.”
Studies show clear evidence that a diverse teacher workforce improves student achievement, especially for students of color. However, as the Learning Policy Institute writes, “students of color and other historically underserved students are disproportionately taught by new, underprepared, and inexperienced teachers—an inequity that is substantially responsible for persistent achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers.”
Even though a majority of American K-12 students are non-white, only 20% of the teacher workforce identify as people of color. There are still significant barriers for Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) students in teacher preparation programs which contribute to difficulties in building and retaining diversity in the education workforce. Yet MSIs are disproportionately responsible for training these diverse teachers – HSIs train 90% of Latino teachers and HBCUs 50% of Black teachers – so investment in MSI teacher training programs is key to developing teaching talent that reflects the diversity of America’s student population. Strengthening the diverse teacher pipeline would also help combat the nationwide teacher shortage, which significantly worsened last year when half a million teaching jobs were lost in part due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“At a time of reckoning around racial justice and an ever-worsening teacher shortage crisis, it is more important than ever to make sure that we are investing in building a strong pipeline of qualified, diverse teachers. The Teacher Diversity and Retention Act does exactly that,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “When teachers reflect the communities they serve and have the training and tools they need to succeed, everyone benefits. I am proud to reintroduce this bill during Black History Month in recognition of the importance of equitable education and representation in the teaching workforce in the fight for racial equality.”
“The tragic events of this summer served as a painful but necessary reminder: America has a long way to go to fully realize its promise of equality to all, regardless of one’s skin color,” said Rep. Houlahan. “It is crucial that we legislate in a deliberate and anti-racist manner to help eliminate the systemic inequalities that have plagued our country since its founding. Our Teacher Diversity and Retention Act is an important step towards of our collective goal of building an education system that makes quality education accessible to all. Before coming to Congress, I taught Chemistry to group of high school students in North Philadelphia. It was an incredible experience, but I was dismayed to see so little diversity amongst my teaching colleagues. It’s critical for students to be able to look up to their teachers and see themselves and their likeness reflected. You can’t be what you can’t see. Having more teachers of color betters our schools, our students and our communities. That’s why I’m helping lead the charge with this crucial and prescient legislation. We need our school leaders to reflect the richly diverse country we are all lucky to call home.”
“While Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) make up only 3 percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, they produce nearly half of the country’s Black teachers. That alone should demonstrate how important it is to strengthen the teacher pipeline at HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions,” said Rep. Adams. “The Teacher Diversity and Retention Act continues to build upon that teacher pipeline so that the next generation of educators reflects the diversity of our nation’s student body.”
Congresswoman Hayes has also recently introduced the Save Education Jobs Act, a bill that will help to prevent further educator job losses during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.
Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.