Governor Ned Lamont has announced that over the last five years, school districts in Connecticut have hired more than 1,900 educators of color, exceeding the goal set by the State Board of Education to increase the number of educators of color by 10% – approximately 1,000 positions – between 2017 and 2021.
The governor said that while this five-year goal has been met, his administration will continue pursuing policies that do more to close the existing gap between educators and students of color so the workforce better reflects the diversity of the students in the classroom.
“Numerous studies have shown that students of color achieve better educational outcomes when they have teachers of color in the classroom, and as our student body becomes more diverse we should be doing everything we can to reflect that diversity among the educators who are mentoring and inspiring our next generation of young people,” Governor Lamont said. “All students, no matter their background, benefit from having a diverse classroom experience.”
“We recognize that we must continue to build upon and accelerate our efforts to cultivate and support the next generation of highly-effective and diverse aspiring educators,” Connecticut Acting Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said. “Diversifying our pipeline of educators and leaders for our school systems will ensure the best possible outcomes for both students and adults.”
A wide range of evidence supports the benefits of a diverse teacher workforce, including its positive impact on strengthening schools and resulting in better outcomes for students of all races and ethnicities, such as reduced dropout rates, improved college admissions, and achievement gains. While the number of educators of color in Connecticut’s schools is on the ride, the students have also become increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity and race with more than 45% identifying as people of color as of the 2020-2021 school year.
The Lamont administration and the Connecticut State Department of Education have made it a priority to diminish the gap between educators and students of color by amplifying efforts to build an educator workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of its students. The department is taking a multipronged approach to promote a more diverse workforce beyond the established five-year goal by employing the following three strategies:
- Increasing pathways to certification by providing ongoing support to both traditional and alternate route educator preparation programs;
- Assisting districts with recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse educator workforce; and
- Supporting candidates to attract and recruit the next generation of Connecticut educators.
A review of the last five years of work indicates the three focus areas and corresponding strategies have yielded positive results. While these initiatives will be sustained, the State Department of Education is focused on continued program enhancement that will diversify Connecticut’s educator pipeline for years to come. The department is also expanding efforts by implementing new initiatives in 2020-2023 across the PK-16 education continuum, including:
- Educators Rising, which introduces high school students early on to careers in education and diversifies pipelines to the state’s teacher workforce based on research showing that pre-college engagement of prospective teachers allows districts to invest in current students of color while also cultivating future educators;
- NextGen Educators, launched in partnership with Central Connecticut State University, created a pipeline that brings highly motivated college students seeking education degrees into classrooms to gain experience, and provide districts with immediate access to new talent to ease pressures on current teachers and address staffing shortages. The initiative will continue to support districts this summer and places special emphasis on attracting candidates from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds; and
- For the coming school year, the Connecticut State Department of Education is expanding its work on increasing the number of male educators with a component focused on male educators of color.