Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Kentucky schools prioritize educator diversity

| by Cory Curl |

One of the many reasons that we Kentuckians have such devotion to Kentucky is the strength we draw from the rich and textured cultures flourishing in communities between the Mississippi River and the Appalachians, from country to city and everywhere in between.

We aspire that our young people, in particular, draw strength from their cultures as they take their education journeys. As such, leaders across Kentucky have long prioritized efforts to recruit and retain educators whose experiences or expertise reflect the full range of our students' cultures. 

The Prichard Committee study group report released last week, Excellence with Equity: It's Everybody's Business, calls on the state to redouble these efforts and to do so with urgency. 

The report illuminates, for example, that past efforts to recruit teachers of color have not met their promise. Today, Kentucky has 20.9% students of color but only 4.6% teachers of color. 

We are encouraged by new momentum to increase intentional efforts to recruit and retain a more diverse teacher workforce. For example, in Paducah Independent, district leaders point to the need to make sure students have role models that look like them and know where they came from. Kentucky's 2016 Teacher of the Year, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, shares her own story of why educator diversity matters for all students. 

Many states and communities across the nation are also bringing renewed energy to educator diversity. We look forward to learning from these efforts as well as strategies that our Kentucky communities take in coming years.

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