An Overview and Brief History
The Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota unites individuals, organizations and communities concerned about the lack of racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity in the teaching force which is 96% white even though students of color and Native American students make up 34% of the K-12 population in MN and are the majority of students in many urban, suburban and rural schools. While E-12 student diversity has increased and will continue to increase throughout the state, teacher diversity has not increased over the past two decades. We believe in our experience and compelling research that proves racially and ethnically diverse teachers are important to the success and learning of ALL students, especially students of color and American Indian students.
The Coalition was created in November 2015 by seven teacher educators from public and private colleges and universities along with two urban school district administrators who are committed to quality in teacher preparation and concerned about barriers that especially impact persons of color who want to enter and stay in the teaching profession. These barriers are especially problematic for adult learners and non-licensed employees of color who want to be well-prepared licensed teachers of diverse E-12 learners. They are systemic barriers that require changes in policy and institutions along with major financial investments. At this time, we were inspired by 2015 Policy Briefs published by the MN Educational Equity Partnership (MnEEP) and Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) that had common findings and recommendations.
The Coalition expanded on December 11, 2015 when 40 people from various institutions and organizations in the state gathered to affirm the Coalition’s goal, 5-point Platform, and generate ideas of a Summit to inform the upcoming legislative session. The notion of the summit turned into a “Call for Action” with more than 200 people from dozens of organizations and institutions from throughout the state coming together on February 6, 2016 around a common goal to double the current number of teachers of color and ensure that 20% of candidates in teacher preparation are of color and American Indian by 2020. The Coalition worked to draft and see a bill pass that revised several existing state statutes to ensure that all students have “equitable access to effective and diverse teachers” who reflect student diversity in schools. The success of the February 6 event led to a Bush Foundation grant to host a conference August 10-12, 2016 for nearly 250 current and aspiring teachers who are of color and American Indian. In November 2016, a Core Steering Committee with a majority people of color formed to provide direction to work of the Coalition.
During the 2017 legislative session with the crucial support of the state ethnic and Indian Affairs councils, the Coalition drafted the Increase Teachers of Color Act that was passed and expanded several existing programs to include teachers of color as a shortage area and include modest increased appropriations along with creating several new programs. The Coalition held its second conference for current and aspiring TOCAIT in August 2017. During the 2017-18 school year to support TOCAIT retention, we offered micro-grants for teams of two or more TOCAIT to attend equity conferences together, and held a series of Affinity Group Dinner Dialogues. By November 2017, there were over 1100 individuals from 150 schools, districts, institutions, organizations and communities who have joined the Coalition. During the 2018 legislative session, the Coalition drafted a bill with bipartisan support and kept attention on the issue, but the bill ultimately wasn’t passed.
Three years after our forming (as of December 2018), the Coalition now unites more than 1,250 people from throughout Minnesota including students, parents, teacher candidates, teacher educators, paraprofessionals, teachers, and administrators from urban, suburban and rural area schools and districts. In these polarized times, the Coalition also unites Republican and Democratic legislators, school board members and other elected officials from throughout MN, as well as a range of community-based and education organizations in support of bills we have drafted. If you aren’t yet a member, join us to support meaningful change needed to help close unacceptable, persistent opportunity and achievement gaps that are among the largest in the United States--the economic development and social fabric of our state needs all students to be successful in school.