Even though American schools are becoming more diverse, the problem is the teaching workforce is not. The purpose of this research is to gain insight into why teacher preparation programs need to be reformed because most teachers who graduate from these programs are white and enter the classroom having cultural disconnects with their racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students (Cutts, 2020). This results in teacher preparation programs using curriculum to educate pre-service teachers that is not culturally relevant or inclusive (Juarez & Hayes, 2015). To understand why this discrepancy exists, it is important to examine this problem. We must point to racism and discriminatory policies that have contributed to why most teachers in America are white. Since the founding of America, racism has been ingrained and existed in our society.
Fortunately, down through the years we as a nation have become better at identifying racism and collectively as a society demonizing the evils that come along with it. Policies have been passed and enacted in all levels of government, and race relations have improved in this country. However, the work is far from being over. Anyone who says that racism is over in America is in denial. When it comes to American public schools, higher education, and the educational system in our country, racism still exists. Although time will not allow me to investigate every racist attribute that is associated with the educational system in America, my focus will primarily be zoned in on the teaching workforce in American public schools and the dynamics of why teacher preparation programs produce so many white teachers.
The research question I ask is why teacher preparation programs need to be reformed in America. The theory that will be selected for this course of study is Critical Race Theory. The themes for this paper are, why are most teachers in America white, why the curriculum used in teacher preparation programs is white dominated, and why teacher preparation programs need to use curriculum that is culturally relevant and racially inclusive. The primary recommendations needed is to recruit more people of color to become school teachers and to teach pre-service teachers to embrace cultural diversity and to learn about prejudice and racism and work to end systematic racism in the educational system in America.
America is a unique country with a structured public school system. When coming across the term, “public school”, one may ask what is a public school? A public school is a school supported by public funds. Traditionally, public schools span from Kindergarten to the twelfth Grade. The citizens of the United States pay taxes and part of those taxes help pay for public schools. Public schools welcome any child from society. It does not matter their race, socioeconomic status, creed, language, etc.
Majority of students enrolled in American public schools are children of color, but the teaching workforce is primarily made up of white teachers. Why are there so few teachers of color? As a researcher, I want to find out why this is and then work towards finding solution. While researching, I realized teacher preparation programs play a huge role in recruiting and certificating teachers. My focus is on teacher preparation programs. My research question is why teacher preparation programs need to reform in America?
In 2015, 51% of students in U.S. Public Schools were of color (Cutts, 2020). That number is predicted to go up to 55% by 2027 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019b). Cochran-Smith (2003) predicted students of color (i.e. American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and more than one race) would represent 57% of enrollment in U.S. public schools by the year 2050 (Cochran-Smith, 2003).
Students who speak a second language have also increased. In 2000, 1.1 million students were English Language Learners (National Center for Education Statistics, 2019a). By 2015, that number increased to 4.9 million students (De Brey et al., 2019). With the student population more diverse than ever before, the downside is that the teaching workforce does not reflect the racial makeup of America nor the children in public schools.
This is a national problem as one racial group makes up most of the teaching workforce in America: In the 2003–04 school year, 83% of public school teachers were White, 8% were Black, 6% were Hispanic, and 1% were Asian. In the 2015–2016 school year, 80% of public school teachers were White, 7% were Black, 9% were Hispanic, and 2% were Asian (De Brey et al., 2019). While the public school teaching work force has been diversified slightly with more Asian and Hispanic teachers, the United States teaching work force remains predominantly White, female, middle class, and monolingual (Camera, L., 2015; Garmon, M.A., 2004; Gay, G., 1997; Irvine, J.J., 2003; National Center for Education Statistics, 2019c).
Since most teachers in America are white, often, their racial identity paired with their socioeconomic backgrounds, limited experiences with diverse cultures, and limited self-awareness result in cultural disconnects between them and their racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students (Cutts, 2020). Research has proven that having a teacher of the same race/ethnicity have positive impacts on student’s motivation and achievement and minority teachers have more of an expectation for children of color to succeed than non-minority teachers (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019).
I am inspired to do this project, because if I don’t, I fail in alerting the public to the lack of teacher diversity in American Public Schools. The public deserves the right to know why there is a lack of racial diversity in the teaching workforce. This is a crisis intervention work that looks to repair teacher preparation programs and recruit more people of color to become teachers. By doing this, American children will benefit because they will see a diverse teaching workforce. The positive ramifications of diversifying the workforce in public schools benefits all the students.
The purpose of this general qualitative study is to gain insight into why most of the teachers in America are white, why this discrepancy exists, and why teacher preparation programs need to be reformed. The lack of racial diversity in these preparation programs and the curriculum used results in teachers having cultural disconnects with their racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students (Cutts, 2020). At this stage in the research, teacher preparation programs will be generally defined as any public or private program that offers accreditation for teachers, entry level, and additional training for teachers and educators.
Context and Significance
History of teacher education. Often-times, white teachers’ perceptions and interactions with children of color and their families is demonstrative of much needed change in teacher education (Cutts, 2020). For example, in 2019, a white female teacher in Mississippi posted to Facebook that Black people should go back to Africa (Cutts, 2020).
Teacher preparation programs need to be reformed because most teachers who graduate from these programs are white and enter the classroom having cultural disconnects with their racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students (Cutts, 2020). This results in teacher preparation programs using curriculum to educate pre-service teachers that is not culturally relevant or inclusive (Juarez & Hayes, 2015). To understand why this discrepancy exists, we fir