Harvard Aids in Search For Black Teachers
The Harvard Graduate School of Education has joined eight other institutions in an unprecedented $3 million program that will attempt to increase the number of Black school-teachers, coordinators of the program said this week.
The program, administered by the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) for the Consortium on Teacher Supply and Quality in the South, will unite three leading graduate schools of education with six historically southern Black colleges in the effort, said Katherine N. Kinnick, Public Affairs Coordinator for the SEF.
Harvard is currently coordinating the Summer Scholars Program, the first part implemented of the six-part program. Four students from each of the six Southern colleges are attending a specialized seminar on teaching, as well as other Summer School classes at Harvard. Tuition has been waived and each student is receiving a stipend, Kinnick said.
The joint effort between the schools comes at a time when the gap between minority students and minority teachers in elementary and secondary schools is wide, and, according to studies, shows no signs of shrinking.
"It is an explicit effort by Harvard to attract Blacks to the field of education at a time when the numbers of Blacks in this field are decreasing," said Dean of the Graduate School of Education Patricia A. Graham.
Columbia and Vanderbilt, along with Harvard, comprise the three graduate schools of education. The historically Black Southern colleges are Albany State, Bethune-Cookman, Grambling, Johnson C. Smith, Tuskegee and Xavier.
"These institutions have shown one common thread--they are expressing concern for the problem of minority teachers," said President Billy C. Black of Albany State College. "A program with this sincerity and dedication is bound to yield results."
The SEF, based in Atlanta, has initially received a total of $1.75 million from the BellSouth Foundation in Atlanta and the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia to implement the effort that emphasizes academic skills and teacher recruitment, Kinnick said. SEF officials hope to rasie the rest of the funds later.
"It is a timely venture. A number of Black teachers have been lost to attrition, and a number are lost in the teaching exams, which are considered to be culturally biased," said Althea L.T. Simmons, chief lobbyist for the NAACP and director of the NAACP's Washington bureau. "This all adds up to a shortage for Blacks. The concept [of the program] is excellent."
Statistics released in a statement by the SEF reveal that Blacks today comprise 6.9 percent of the nation's teachers, while Black students represent 16.2 percent of the nation's school enrollment.
By 1995, studies predict that while minority student enrollment may climb to 30 percent, the percentage of minority teachers in the field may lag behind.
These same studies say that for there to be a balance between minority students and minority teachers, 500,000 of the nation's estimated 1.5 million new teachers must be from minority backgrounds by the mid-1990s.
The director of the Summer Scholars program, Associate Professor of Education John B. Williams III, and its co-director, Professor of Education and Urban Studies Charles V. Willie, are holding a seminar for the scholars twice a week at Byerly Hall. A third meeting consists of a series of forums with education administrators.
The program's other five parts, the first of which is slated to begin this fall, range from a Teacher Cadet Program at Bethune-Cookman which is designed to enhance academic skills and increase exposure to higher education for 20-25 middle-school students over a 26-week period, to faculty exchanges between the nine institutions.
The Summer Enirchment Program for Future Teachers will host sixth-and 11th-graders for six weeks at each of the Southern colleges which will emphasize academic skills and promote teaching as a possible career choice.All 11th-graders in this program will receive astipend close to the minimum wage.
The program can become the model for otherinstitutions to follow, Black said, adding that ifan increase in institutions using the programoccurs, then it will produce siginificant results.
While several of the program's organizers saythe lack of minority teachers stems from theattraction of other fields that are able to lurepotential teachers, they said that programs suchas the current one at Harvard could help curb thisproblem.
"Being at Harvard will give [these students]the confidence to compete against other students,"Johnson C. Smith University President Robert C.Albright said. "We've sent our best and ourbrightest. And more importantly, they'll serve asresource people when they return to us.