By Aaron Allen
As we continue to witness the devastating affects the pandemic has placed on our community’s education efforts to rebound and recoup for the best interest of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) is providing resources to help increase diversity and the number of educators in the Seattle area.
Last week, DEEL awarded $893K to six organizations that will help build and expand pathways into the education field and promote worker retention for educators of color.
“By investing in educator diversity, we’re working to ensure all Seattle students have teachers who make them feel safe and supported in school,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “We’re proud to partner with community organizations as One Seattle to support educators of color to enter and remain in the workforce, something we know has a big impact on student outcomes.”
Expanding on recommendations from the Equitable Communities Initiative, a task force implemented by Harrell, the initiative considers a range of funding mechanisms and programmatic structures, including participatory budgeting, grants, RFPs and loans. In addition, an educator diversity funding plan will support up to 5,200 educators through program completion, recruitment, mentorship, and other professional development. Funds will also be used to expand organizations’ capacity to help further their reach and impact.
According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, about 790 (21%) of Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) classroom teachers and 29,000 (54%) of its students identified as people of color in the 2020-21 school year. Studies show investments supporting a diverse community of educators entering and remaining in the field lead to improved test scores, higher enrollment in advanced-level coursework, increased graduation rates, and college matriculation for students of color.
“Representation matters,” says Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL. “It gives our kids an opportunity to learn in environments that affirm their identity, history, and the journey many before them have taken to be successful. Ensuring our educators of color have accessible and supportive professional pathways is key to cultivating learning environments where students thrive.”
Community involvement was at the center of the investment design process through an all-inclusive engagement process, including interviews with organizations as well as youth listening sessions working to support educator diversity.
Based on the feedback from the community, the programs funded through this initiative will support professional development in at least one of five strategic areas:
• Entry: Outreach, recruitment, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs.
• Teacher Education Program Retention: Support to persist and complete preparation programs, including trainings focused on skills-building and leadership development.
• In-Service Classroom Retention: Professional learning promoting peer-to-peer connection and mentorship leading to persistence and job satisfaction.
• Professional Advancement: Support for educators interested in teaching, leadership, or administration certification.
• Professional and Organizational Development: Resources supporting progress toward teaching certification for non-teaching staff and expanded organizational capacity for community organizations.
First-time grant recipient Joe Truss of Truss Leadership says that the investments by the city will go a long way towards more positive outcomes in the classroom, especially for students of color.
“To truly work toward anti-racist outcomes in schools, educators of color must be at the center of the work,” says Truss. “This funding will help Truss Leadership create professional learning spaces that honor the unique experiences of educators of color, encourage strategies for well-being, and promote best teaching practices.
Long-term Families, Education, Preschool and Promise (FEPP) Levy Opportunity & Access partner, Technology Access Foundation (TAF), will use educator diversity funds to support 70 Martinez Fellows across Seattle with workshops in liberation pedagogy, graduate-level scholarships, and early career coaching.
Other DEEL-funded educator diversity investments include the Academy for Rising Educators and Seattle Teacher Residency, both in partnership with Seattle Public Schools. Since 2019, DEEL’s educator diversity investments have served about 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 the school district’s leadership and staff and standing by their efforts of hiring and retaining aspiring educators.
“Seattle Public Schools is committed to a culturally responsive workforce. Diversity in our staff, school leadership, and in our central office is a primary goal,” said Pritchett. “Through our strong partnership with DEEL, we’re building upon strategies that support aspiring educators as they enter the field, while sustaining inclusive learning environments in our schools.”
The full list of Educator Diversity recipients include:
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
Truss Leadership – $144,000
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