The proportion of teachers who are racially diverse has not kept up with Colorado’s changing demographics: 90 percent of Colorado teachers are white, and 10 percent are teachers of color according to the report “Keeping Up with the Kids: Increasing Minority Teacher Representation in Colorado.” The race gap among Colorado’s students and educators likely to take time and CU Denver’s School of Education & Human Development (SEHD) has been taking mission-driven action to reverse this statistic.
“Our graduates are recognized to be among the most prepared in the nation to support diverse languages, cultures and abilities in the classroom,” said Rebecca Kantor, Dean of SEHD. “Our reputation for quality, our focused mission on diversity and social justice, our location in the heart of Denver, and our unique grant programs and recruiting strategies are helping to increase the teacher diversity in Colorado. We are truly making a difference. Our important work is paying off.”
Growing, diverse undergraduate program
From fall 2013 to fall 2014, SEHD saw year-over-year growth of 182 percent in the number of students of color who were enrolled in the undergraduate Education and Human Development BA program. During that time the undergraduate program grew as a whole by 112 percent. From fall 2014 to fall 2015, the undergraduate program experienced a 9.6 percent year-over-year growth of diverse students, and an overall year-over-year growth of 5.6 percent.
Grant from US Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Partnership Grant program making a difference
SEHD’s NxtGEN grant project, funded by the US Department of Education, accounted for 11 percent of the overall growth of SEHD’s undergraduate program in 2015, and added to the increase in students of color in the undergraduate program. The NxtGEN paraeducator intern path is specifically adding to the diversity of SEHD’s undergraduate students. Forty-eight percent of the paraeducator interns who obtained NxtGEN funding in the first two years of the program are students of color. And, and impressive 62 percent of these students are bilingual. NxtGEN is an innovative partnership between CU Denver and Denver Public Schools. The project recruits, prepares and supports the next generation of diverse and talented teachers. Participants receive up to four years of paid classroom field experience and priority hiring in DPS upon graduation.
Alternative licensure program includes 25 percent future teachers of color
SEHD has been growing a new statewide alternative teacher licensure program called ASPIRE to Teach, the largest teacher licensure program in the state. The program provides supportive, high-quality, individualized learning options for adults pursuing a teaching career. This option allows career changers to start their new career without having to take an employment break for one to two years. It has candidates spanning 28 school districts, six charter networks, two innovation school systems and three private schools in Colorado. In 2015-16, 25 percent of the students in the program were of Latino/a descent. The program also has excellent gender diversity for a teacher education program, with 35.5 percent male students.
Teacher pipeline program receiving national recognition is 98.7 percent diverse
SEHD is very proud to support Pathways2Teaching, a concurrent enrollment program designed to engage high school students of color in exploring the teaching profession. The program, founded by SEHD associate professor Margarita Bianco has been receiving positive nationwide recognition from the U.S. Department of Education and Colorado education reporters for several years. Pathways2Teaching has a sustainable funding model funded by its stakeholders in: Adams 14 School District, Boulder Valley School District, Denver Public Schools and Mapleton Public Schools, as well as five schools in Eastern Oregon. In the last six years, it has served 316 potential future teachers: 98.7 percent of the current and former students are people of color. The program also boasts an impressive gender ratio for a teaching program: 39 percent male/63 percent female. A member of the first cohort of Pathways2Teaching is now a teacher in North Carolina. Other participants are working their way through teacher education programs at CU Denver, Colorado State University, Metropolitan State University of Denver and University of Northern Colorado. Bianco and her students have spread the good word about Pathways2Teaching at national and international conferences. This fall, they will be presenting at the Adelante U.S. Education Leadership Fund in San Antonio, TX as well as The Minnesota Educator Academy (MEA) in St. Paul, MN.
New doctoral program will cultivate Latino/a leadership in education
The state’s growing Latino population requires a pipeline of school leaders who reflect the changing demographics and who understand and can build relationships with students and their families.
SEHD’s Latin@ Learners and Community EdD cohort launched this fall with a student body that is 78 percent students of color. Many of these individuals will become principals, superintendents and instructional leaders. All will be keenly attuned to the needs of Latino/a/x communities as a result of their studies at SEHD.
Superb outreach team
SEHD’s Office of Outreach and Recruitment, led by Marlinda Hines, has made an outstanding contribution to SEHD’s diversity landscape and the diversity statistics mentioned above. This office recruits and welcomes students from Colorado, across the country and all over the world, with diverse backgrounds and far-ranging talents and interests. Within their mission is a special focus on nurturing positive experiences with first-generation and ethnically diverse students.
Some of the most successful ways that they have attracted diverse students to apply to SEHD programs include:
- Outreach activities in 25 local urban schools
- Regular presentations to CU Denver’s Pre-Collegiate Program
- Online information sessions for prospective master’s degree students
- Exhibit tables at a variety of college and professional fairs and conferences
- Individualized and timely support from inquiry, through application and admission.
“I believe the attainment of advanced education is a way to improve and grow society,” said Marlinda Hines, director of SEHD’s Office of Outreach and Admissions. “Our school’s commitment to diversity and social justice speaks directly to my beliefs. My team and I engage prospective and diverse students with the desire to advocate and work for social change within their own communities.”