Minnesota’s minority teachers called on lawmakers earlier this week to come up with ways to increase the number of teachers with color in the state.
According to a report in MPRnews, Education Minnesota, the teacher’s union in the state, and other advocacy groups want lawmakers to put legislation in the books that increases student loan forgiveness and funding for training programs and mentoring.
The report pointed to a recent Minnesota education department study that reported on diversity of education in Minnesota. While this report shows an increase in new teachers of color, teacher diversity is still way behind that of students.
The Minnesota teacher union called on lawmakers to create programs that increased support for staff including teachers, counselors, and social workers. With more minority leaders, educators should be able to devote the necessary attention to the growing number of minority students while being able to represent them adequately on boards and committees.
In the 2015-2016 school year, 7.7% of teachers were those of color which is a 1.6% increase over the previous five years. The increase was attributed largely to new black and Hispanic teachers.
However, the Education Department found that a quarter of the teachers in Minnesota leave the field after three years. Salaries of the teachers and a tight job market were cited as the two big road blocks to retaining teachers.
Minnesota teachers argue that a lack of diversity in the teaching ranks puts more pressure on teachers of color. In order to represent their minority, these teachers face heightened pressure to sit on committees and boards in addition to their already strenuous workload.
“It’s actually adding more burden on me because I’m teaching, and then I have to prepare and do all those things,” said Roberta Hernandez Rasmussen, a Minnesota teacher, in the report. For these reasons, she argued that the absence of policies that retain teachers of color is hurting minority students.
One major component of this story is student loan forgiveness. Teaching occupations are notorious for low salaries, and the cost of college has risen disproportionally to the average teacher salary. This is a significant driver for teachers leaving the field after only several years.
Many teachers struggle with student loan debt. Increasing student loan forgiveness at the state level for teachers may be the best way to increase the ranks of people with color in the teaching profession.
According to LendEDU’s college debt rankings, graduates of Minnesota’s colleges and universities leaves school with an average student debt of $31,435 which is higher than the national average of $28,000.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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