Board of Regents proposes expanding TOC II and certificate programs to increase teacher diversity

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Seeking to remedy the Empire State’s teacher diversity problem, the New York Board of Regents is proposing expanding the Teacher Opportunity Corps II, a grant that helps teaching students of color.

In a draft report released in November, the Board of Regents found that not a single teacher of color was employed in 200 districts. The finalized report, released on Dec. 31, found that 80 percent of New York state’s teacher’s are white — a number that has remained constant from 2011 to 2017.

The number of teachers of color has increased by 1,400 between 2011 and 2017, according to report. The majority of the growth has been witnessed in New York City, with the number of teachers of color spiraling downward in most districts, including in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

As the teacher workforce becomes less diverse, New York state’s K-12 student body has grown to be over 50 percent students of color.  The report also found a gender disparity, with the number of female to male teachers being three to one.

The report also highlighted a lower retention rate of teachers of colors, especially Black male teachers. About 22 percent of Black teachers did not return to the classroom following the 2017-18 school year compared to 13 percent of white teachers, according to data gathered by The Education Trust–New York.

During that same year, 19 percent of Latino teachers, 18 percent of Asian or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander teachers and 17 percent of Native American instructors also declined to return to the classroom that same year.

In order to combat the diversity disparity, the Board of Regents listed four areas of investment.

The first called for $3 million in new state funding to expand the Teacher Opportunity Corp II, a grant for teaching students of color. The funds would be used to increase the number of TOC II-funded programs from 16 to 26.

In 2016, the state awarded $3 million from the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to fund TOC programs. Out of the 16 colleges and universities awarded, seven are in New York City; Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Medgar Evers College, Herbert Lehman College, Manhattan College, Queens College and the Teachers College at Columbia University.

At Columbia, the grant allows for the college to give travel grants and tuition assistance to twenty students.

Regents also called for $2.5 million in state funding to create teacher preparation programs from “birth to grade 3” and teacher leader preparation advanced certificate programs for  “birth to grade 12” for teachers from underrepresented groups.

The board also called for $2 million to be used to pilot “Grow Your Own” programs to help with teacher shortages in some private schools teaching students with disabilities and Special Act school districts. Finally, the Regents board suggests $1.2 million in state funding be spent to increase the number of certification examination fee waiver vouchers three-fold.

This story first appeared on amny.com.

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