By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
As we continue to witness the devastating effects the pandemic has had on our community’s education efforts to rebound and recover in the best interests of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, the Department of Education and Seattle Early Learning (DEEL) provides resources to help increase diversity and the number of educators in the Seattle area.
Last week, DEEL awarded $893,000 to six organizations that will help create and expand pathways in education and promote worker retention for educators of color.
“By investing in educator diversity, we are working to ensure that all Seattle students have teachers who make them feel safe and supported at school,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “We’re proud to partner with community organizations like One Seattle to help educators of color enter and stay in the workforce, which we know has a big impact on student achievement.”
Building on recommendations from the Equitable Communities Initiative, a task force set up by Harrell, the initiative envisions a range of funding mechanisms and programmatic structures, including participatory budgeting, grants, offers and loans. Additionally, an Educator Diversity Funding Plan will support up to 5,200 educators through program completion, recruitment, mentoring and other professional development. The funds will also be used to increase the capacity of organizations to increase their reach and impact.
According to the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, approximately 790 (21%) of Seattle Public Schools (SPS) teachers and 29,000 (54%) of its students identified as people of color during the course of the 2020-21 school year. Studies show that investments supporting a diverse community of educators entering and remaining in the field lead to better test scores, increased enrollment in advanced-level courses, increased graduation rates, and enrollment in college for students of color.
“Representation matters,” says Dr. Dwane Chappelle, director of DEEL. “It gives our children the opportunity to learn in environments that affirm their identity, their history and the path taken by many before them to succeed. Ensuring our educators of color have accessible and supportive career paths is essential to cultivating learning environments where students thrive.
Community involvement was central to the investment design process through a comprehensive engagement process, including interviews with organizations as well as listening sessions from young people working to support diversity educators.
Based on community feedback, programs funded under this initiative will support professional development in at least one of five strategic areas:
• Hall: Outreach, recruitment and enrollment in teacher preparation programs.
• Retention of the teacher training program: Support to persevere and complete readiness programs, including training focused on skill building and leadership development.
• Maintenance in class while on duty: Professional learning fostering peer connection and mentorship leading to perseverance and job satisfaction.
• Career progression : Support for educators interested in certification in teaching, leadership or administration.
• Professional and organizational development: Resources supporting progress towards teaching certification for non-teaching staff and expanding organizational capacity of community organizations.
The first grant recipient, Joe Truss of Truss Leadership, says the city’s investments will go a long way toward more positive classroom outcomes, especially for students of color.
“To truly work toward anti-racism outcomes in schools, educators of color need to be at the center of the work,” Truss says. “This funding will help Truss Leadership create professional learning spaces that honor the unique experiences of educators of color, encourage wellness strategies, and promote best teaching practices.
Technology Access Foundation (TAF), Levy Opportunity & Access Partner for Long-Term Families, Education, Early Learning, and Promise (FEPP), will use Educator Diversity Funds to support 70 Martinez Scholars in Seattle with workshops on the pedagogy of liberation, graduate scholarships and early career coaching.
Other investments in educator diversity funded by DEEL include the Academy for Rising Educators and the Seattle Teacher Residency, both in partnership with Seattle Public Schools. Since 2019, DEEL’s investments in educator diversity have served approximately 250 educators.
According to Dr. Sarah Pritchett, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for Seattle Public Schools, the goal of their partnership with DEEL is to diversify school district leadership and staff and support their efforts to hire and retain educators. budding.
“Seattle Public Schools is committed to a culturally sensitive workforce. The diversity of our staff, school leadership and central office is a primary goal,” said Pritchett. “Through our strong partnership with DEEL, we leverage strategies that support future educators as they enter the field, while maintaining inclusive learning environments in our schools.”
The full list of Educator Diversity Recipients includes:
ACE Academy – $150,000
Filipino American Educators of Washington – $150,000
My Brother’s Teacher – $150,000
Praxis Institute for Early Childhood Education – $150,000
Technology Access Foundation – $148,797
Farm Management – $144,000