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With the White House release of the annual proclamation announcing January as National Mentoring Month, the Hunt Institute is also calling on bipartisan support from government officials to increase mentorship among the nation’s teachers and school leaders of color to improve outcomes for students of color. As a recognized leader in the movement to transform public education, the Hunt Institute and its national, state and local partners through the One Million Teachers of Color campaign aim to add one million more teachers and thirty-thousand leaders of color to the U.S. educational system. With research continuing to emphasize the importance of recruiting and retaining educators of color, The Hunt Institute and partners have included a nationwide goal of building an early pipeline to ensure our most venerable and deserving students have successful educational outcomes.
“Educators of color face innumerable challenges before they can get in the classroom, and staying is often tougher,” said Hunt Institute president and CEO Dr. Javaid Siddiqi. “Once teachers begin, they’re often assigned a mentor, but this is not mandatory or seen across the board in our educational system. Similar to students seeing positive role models who look like them in the classroom, our teachers need the same. We have to see them through.”
One in five teachers are people of color, while over 50% of students identify as people of color, and approximately 40% of US public schools do not have a single educator of color. This presents a problem, particularly, for students of color who can go through an entire public school career without ever having a teacher of color. For educators, it means they may not get to have a role model to help mentor and counsel them throughout their career. While training and financial assistance to help potential educators and current school support staff [AC1] attain undergraduate degrees and teaching certifications have long-since been envisioned as part of improving retention and recruitment of teachers of color, the impact of mentorship in education is often overlooked.
Across all industries, mentorship is known to retain employees by up to 49 percent, according to a recent survey. For educators, in particular, research has shown that a well-designed teacher mentorship program lowers the rate of new teachers leaving.
“We continue to see the positive effects of mentorship among teachers, especially teachers of color,” said Dr. Ashlee Canty, Director of Equity Initiatives at The Hunt Institute. “As the Hunt Institute and our partners work to add teachers and leaders of color to our educator workforce, I believe that mentoring should be a greater focus on providing resources and funding for mentorship programs at the district, state, and federal levels.”
Additionally, students of color who have teachers of a similar race/ethnicity, identity and upbringing are less likely to be suspended and more likely to graduate high school, enroll in postsecondary education, and obtain a postsecondary degree and/or credential. While research shows the benefits are most significant for students of color, indeed all students experience greater engagement, higher achievement, and cross-cultural interactions from having access to a diverse group of educators – including teachers, principals, administrators, and other school-based personnel. Therefore, providing early mentorship programs for educators seems like a way to not only stop the domino effect of teachers leaving the profession early, but also potentially curtail students left behind by COVID, as a disproportionate amount of those students are minorities.
“The Hunt Institute is calling on the Biden Administration to explore more options to improve the educational pipeline, including advocating for mentorship for teachers,” added Siddiqi. “It will be for the benefit of all – including the most deserving.”
This is a press release from the Hunt Institute.