How 6 teacher prep programs will infuse equity

Six minority-serving universities and their K-12 school district partners will participate in a three-year immersion project
By: | February 10, 2021
Students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds view teachers of color favorably, and students of color perform better when they have teachers of color, teacher prep experts say, (AdobeStock/highwaystarz)Students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds view teachers of color favorably, and students of color perform better when they have teachers of color, teacher prep experts say, (AdobeStock/highwaystarz)

An initiative designed to diversify the teaching profession with more diverse educators has added six minority-serving institutions of higher education to its K-12 equity.

Teacher preparation programs at the six universities—Alabama A&M University, Mount Saint Mary’s University (Maryland), Texas A&M International University, University of La Verne (Calif.), Virginia State University and West Texas A&M University—will participate in a three-year immersion project provided by the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, also known as BranchEd.

The alliance’s National Teacher Preparation Transformation Center program provides each university’s education faculty and their K-12 school district partners access to enhanced resources and professional development along with opportunities to  network with other educators and share data.

“Our approach is ‘grassroots’ in that we work directly with the educator preparation providers to draft and implement an individualized plan for systemic and sustainable improvement with the goal of ensuring their program graduates are competent and confident in their ability to teach all students—particularly students of color and those from low-socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Cassandra Herring, president and CEO of BranchEd.

A significant demographic diversity gap persists between K-12 teachers and the students they serve, said Betina Hsieh, professor and director of teacher education at the University of La Verne.

“Research has shown that students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds view teachers of color favorably, and students of color perform better when they have teachers of color,” Hsieh said.


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The University of La Verne, which partners with Pomona USD, will focus on providing multiple pathways to subject-matter competencies, creating opportunities for mentorships with successful teachers of color, and modelling  culturally responsive teaching, Hsieh said.

The program should expand the traditional teacher education curriculum and offer enriched opportunities to engage with families and communities, added James O’Meara, dean of Texas A&M International University’s College of Education.

“We train diverse teachers to meet the needs of diverse populations in the PK-12 schools,” said Lena Walton, Alabama A&M University’s dean of education, humanities and behavioral sciences. “Their program focuses on equity and diversity matters, including preparing candidates how to navigate and address concerns of equity and diversity within PK-12 schools.”