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Burlington School District looking to recruit teachers of color

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 12:52 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2020 at 9:34 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington School District is trying to come up with ways to recruit and retain more teachers of color.

At a diversity meeting on Tuesday, school board members acknowledged the lack of BIPOC representation in schools as a statewide and nationwide problem.

Right now, there are about 36% more BIPOC (Black, Idigenous and people of color) students than BIPOC teachers in the school district. Forty-percent of students are BIPOC, but only 4% of teachers are.

According to national research from Johns Hopkins University and American University, Black students who had at least one Black teacher by third grade are 13% more likely to go to college. It also shows that Black men who had a Black teacher in elementary school are 39% less likely to drop out of high school. Research shows students do better academically and emotionally when they have a teacher or principal who looks like them and who they can identify with. It’s known as the role model effect.

To ensure that Black and brown students in Burlington have someone who looks like them to look up to, the school board is brainstorming new ways to recruit and retain teachers of color.

One idea is to start a program similar to one that was in place in the 1990s that provided an incentive to college students who stayed in the area to teach.

“UVM and some of the other colleges would help students erase some of their loans if they came and worked for the district two or three years after,” said Henri Sparks, the school district’s director of equity.

They’re considering partnering with other school districts around Chittenden County.

“Maybe Winooski, South Burlington and some of the other ones right in the immediate area around Burlington to partner with them to see if we could make a bigger program that went into those districts and that might be a little more attractive to UVM or one of the other universities nearby,” said Andrew Styles, an Edmunds Elementary School teacher.

They’re also looking for any grant funding that is available to start this program. They’re also reviewing similar programs across the country as a reference.

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