Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED) launched on Aug. 28, 2017, becoming the center of America’s network of educator preparation programs at minority serving institutions (MSI).
BranchED’s goal is to maximize the performance of minority serving institutions by teaching practical technical assistance, forming strategic alliances and equipping educators with the skills needed to close the educator diversity gap.
According to the Center for American Progress, over 40 percent of public schools do not have a single teacher of color, even though 51 percent of public school students are children of color. Studies conducted by this program have shown that students of color, more distinctly, achieve greater positive academic and social-emotional experiences when being taught by individuals with similar racial, linguistic and cultural characteristics. On the flip side, it is just as important that white students interact with individuals who look different than them in order to build social trust and a better sense of community.
MSI educator preparation programs only represent 13 percent of programs in the United States but prepare a disproportionately larger percentage of the country’s diverse educators. Programs that fall into the MSI category include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), black-serving non-HBCUs, Hispanic-serving institutions, Asian-serving institutions, American Indian-serving institutions, or institutions where 50% of the total undergraduate enrollment is made up of minority students. Among all MSIs, only 253 have educator preparation programs.
“As the country becomes more diverse, the future of our students is highly dependent on having excellent, diverse teacher candidates,” said Colette Pierce Burnette, President of Huston-Tillotson University, in a Globe Newswire article. “We see great possibilities in the collective power of minority serving institutions and key partners working together to close the educator diversity gap.”
With MSIs having the most successful track record of preparing diverse educators, this seems to be the key solution to closing the educator diversity gap in America’s schools.
“We cannot close the diversity gap in this country without the educator preparation programs of minority serving institutions,” said BranchED founder and CEO Cassandra Herring in an article with Globe Newswire. “We must raise awareness about and invest in the institutions that are best positioned to prepare greater numbers of highly effective, diverse educators to enter and persist in American classrooms.”
According to the Center of American Progress, over the last three years, the difference in demographics between teachers and students has increased by 3 percent. Though almost every state has a diversity gap, North Carolina helped to facilitate its own by cancelling funding for the Teaching Fellows Program in 2011. The program focused on recruiting people of color and “experts had hailed it as an important way to get more teachers of color into the nation’s classrooms.”
According to a study done by the National Collaborative on Diversity in the Teaching Force, policy makers, teacher educators, members of ethnic communities and school leaders agree that more teachers of color are needed in the education profession. The study states that if these numbers increase, there will be a growth in the number of role models for students of color; it will provide opportunities for all students to learn about ethnic, racial and cultural diversity, students’ learning will be enriched due to shared racial, ethnic and cultural identities, and the teachers will be able to serve as cultural brokers to increase the involvement of other teachers and their students’ parents.
BranchED’s hopes for unified effort to strengthen and grow MSI educator preparation programs, grow relationships among MSIs by building partnerships, and to amplify one collective voice by promoting awareness of educator diversity.