JOINT LETTER FROM 50+ MAJOR EDUCATION ORGANIZATIONS AND 1,600+ INDIVIDUAL EDUCATORS AND ADVOCATES OUTLINES ACTIONABLE STEPS FOR SECRETARY OF EDUCATION MIGUEL CARDONA TO IMPROVE TEACHER DIVERSITY.
Philadelphia, PA and Rochester, MI – Today, brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists and the Center for Black Educator Development, an organization dedicated to ensuring equity in the recruiting, training, hiring, and retention of Black educators, delivered a joint letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, urging him and the Biden administration to prioritize teacher diversity.
The joint letter was delivered in partnership with over 50 leading education organizations and was signed by over 1,600 individuals on brightbeam’s Voice to Action platform. The letter is still collecting signatures and support at voicetoaction.org/BidenTeacherDiversity.
The letter acknowledges that even as Dr. Cardona and President Biden have named teacher diversity as a goal for the administration, action must be taken now to ensure states, districts and schools adopt effective policy as they rapidly hire new educators and staff in the scramble to reopen schools fully and meet academic benchmarks from the pandemic. The letter includes many practical and comprehensive policy recommendations that the Biden administration can implement to support these efforts at the local, state and national level.
Sharif El-Mekki, founder and CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development and principal ambassador for the U.S. Department of Education under the Obama administration:
Alice Walker once said that the most important question in the world is, “Why are the children crying?” Many Black and Brown children are crying because they can go through 13 years of school without seeing a single teacher that shares their cultural background, their shared sense of urgency and history. Setting teacher diversity as an immediate policy priority — especially as districts around the country are flooded with federal dollars to accelerate learning after the pandemic — will facilitate the positive transformation of the classroom that our students of color deserve.
Chris Stewart, brightbeam CEO, on the need to uplift the work of the Center for Black Educator Development and all of the activists calling for a more diverse teaching profession:
Teacher diversity is not a nice-to-have, it’s critical to improving education for all. Now is the time to make urgent, but informed policy to ensure that every single child is able to grow to their full potential in a classroom where they are culturally affirmed and are able to see professionals at the front of the classroom who look like them. Dr. Cardona and the Biden administration need look no further than educator experts like Sharif El-Mekki and the work of the Center for Black Educator Development for examples on how to make this a priority.
The version of the letter sent to the Department of Education also includes statements from the leadership of 26 organizations committed to building a diverse teacher pipeline, including Jonah Edelman of Stand for Children, Elisa Villanueva-Beard of Teach For America, Richard Barth of KIPP, and Kate Walsh of the National Council on Teacher Quality. Other organizations adding statements include Latinos for Education, National Center for Teacher Residencies, New Teacher Center, and Relay Graduate School of Education.
Brightbeam is a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and a brighter future for every child. Using the power of communications, we shine a light on communities that challenge decision-makers to provide the learning opportunities all children need to thrive. We help strong voices tell powerful stories that unite and move their communities to action. Brightbeam amplifies these stories through a variety of digital platforms, including Education Post, Citizen Ed, Project Forever Free, and more than 20 local and regional sites that spotlight education issues nationally. We also sponsor on-the-ground initiatives, projects or organizations that align with our mission. To learn more, visit brightbeamnetwork.org.
About the Center for Black Educator DevelopmentLaunched in June 2019, the Center for Black Educator Development is revolutionizing education by dramatically increasing the number of Black educators so that low-income Black and other disenfranchised students can reap the full benefits of a quality public education. The Center exists to ensure there will be equity in the recruiting, training, hiring, and retention of quality educators that reflect the cultural backgrounds and share common socio-political interests of the students they serve. To learn more and get involved in their efforts, visit thecenterblacked.org.