Representation is everything, especially in the realm of education. According to a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Black students who have two Black teachers are 32 percent more likely to pursue their college education. Cognizant of the importance of representation, Louisville-based Simmons College has launched a new program as an avenue to produce more Black teachers, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported.
The HBCU is teaming up with Jefferson County Public Schools for the initiative, the news outlet writes. As part of the program, graduates of Simmons College will have the opportunity to go through a 12-week accelerated summer program and eventually be placed at schools within the district. Organizers of the initiative hope to have graduates teaching in public schools by Fall 2019.
The concept for the initiative came after the district realized there was a major gap between Black teachers and students. The district had a huge issue with hiring and keeping Black teachers. Although 35 percent of students in the county are African American, only 12 percent of the teachers are Black. The school district hopes to raise that percentage to 18 percent by 2020 through it’s Racial Equity Plan.
“We believe we can be a catalyst in this area as it relates to our local school system and also across the state,” said Executive Vice President of Simmons College Dr. Frank Smith Jr., according to the news outlet.
There has been a major push to increase racial representation in classrooms. Last year in Connecticut, House representatives unanimously passed a bill to instruct the state’s Department of Education to recruit and retain more teachers of color.