Students need diversity among educators

Imaginegraduating from high school and having never seen a teacher or administratorwho looks like you. This is the experience for many of students of colorin Western New York. Community leaders gathered to take a closer look at whatthat means for our children and future workforce as part of this year's annualCommunity Dialogue hosted by Child & Family Services.

Arecent study by The Education Trust-New York found nearly 200,000 Latino andBlack students in New York State attend schools with zero to one teachers ofthe same race or ethnicity. While this was not surprising to most of theleaders at the Community Dialogue, it was agreed that the issue needed to beexamined. For students of color, it may be a barrier to the opportunities theysee for themselves or lead to lower expectations from those in positions ofauthority. Some saw the root cause to be segregated communities while othersquestioned the qualified candidates available for these important positions inand outside of the classroom.

Thislead to a robust discussion on how to improve the pipeline for minorityteachers. Some question what it really means to be the best and brightestcandidate and whether the definition itself needs to be more inclusive. Otherdiscussions focused on more awareness as part of a teacher's education andidentifying and addressing barriers to certification for educators of color. Itwas emphasized that if diversity was not made part of hiring policy, it wouldnot be accomplished.

Theinput of this diverse group of business, political, professional andnot-for-profit leaders will be used by Education Trust to help better sharetheir message and determine the best community partners to engage and advocatefor meaningful change. You can learn more about the study examined through thisconversation at www.seeourtruth.org. The CommunityDialogue is sponsored by Child & Family Services to drive awareness tohigh-level issues that threaten to undermine the strength of our community andeffect the children and families we serve. Child & Family Services helpsmore than 10,000 individuals each year. You can learn more about our workat www.cfsbny.org.