Minority Teachers Want to Be Less of a Minority
Teachers and students want more Black and Brown faces on staff
Stacy Davis Connecticut Post
July 15, 2012TRUMBULL, Conn. (AP) -- Fifth-graders Olivia Kennedy and Kairan Kaur said they don't have many teachers that look like them at their school in Trumbull.
Olivia, 11, is black. Kairan, 10, is South Asian.
Although they are both happy at Frenchtown Elementary School, they said they wished they had more teachers of different races.
``They should be equal,'' Olivia said.
Olivia and Kairan are taught by Rebecca Caravetta, who is one of just two minority teachers at their school. Caravetta is Colombian; Sangeeta Gidwani is Indian.
``I was surprised to see that we were the only two in the building,'' said Caravetta.
In Trumbull, there were 5,804 students enrolled in the school district in 2009-10 of which 1,170, or 16.8 percent, were minorities. The minority teacher population was just 3.1 percent, according to the Connecticut State Department of Education's Strategic School Profile.
Trumbull is among many districts throughout the state that have a very small percentage of minority teachers, less than the amount of their minority students.
``There's definitely a shortage nationwide,'' said Stafford Thomas, the principal of Hillcrest Middle School, who is black.
In Bridgeport, minority teachers comprise just 26.4 percent of the staff, though minorities comprise 91.4 percent of the student population.
The lack of diversity in teaching staffs at schools across the state has been a concern for the state's chapters of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Carolyn Vermont, the president of the Bridgeport chapter.
``A lot more needs to be done,'' she said. ``I would like to see more black and brown teachers in the Bridgeport school system,'' she said.
Experts say lack of diversity in classroom teachers can affect students in a variety of ways. Students miss out on a variety of perspectives, minority students lack role models and school districts miss out on a high quality of instructors.
If districts don't do a better job of hiring teachers of diverse backgrounds, Carlos McCray, a Fordham University professor of educational leadership, said staff members could fall into group think about students of color instead of addressing individual needs.
Some minority students may relate better to teachers who are also minorities, experts said.