Last week, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and the University of Louisville announced a joint initiative to bolster teacher diversity in Louisville. The Louisville Teacher Residency Program, which is setting its sights on bringing diverse, highly-skilled teachers into low-income communities, will provide participants with a Masters degree and a teaching certificate all in one year. In return, participants agree to serve at least one year in a high-needs school in Jefferson County.
The program is being hailed as a model for Kentucky, a state that has recently ramped up its efforts to address the teacher shortage crisis. However, the real value of the Louisville Teacher Residency program is its emphasis on diversity.
In a statement, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio noted, “When students identify with a teacher in their classroom it fosters a sense of belonging, promotes engaging interactions, and improves student outcomes. The Louisville Teacher Residency program strives to not just increase the number of minority and other high-needs teachers, but to make sure those teachers have the skills and experience they need to make a positive impact on our students.”
That matters because our nation’s shortage of diverse teachers has been widely noted. In fact, the statistics here in the Bluegrass look pretty grim, too. Despite the fact that roughly 15% of Kentucky’s student population are minorities, only 4% of Kentucky’s teaching force are teachers of color.
It’s not really getting better, either. As of the last four years, there’s only been a .05% bump in the hiring of minority teachers across the state. We know that when schools make intentional efforts to diversify their teaching force, everyone benefits. That’s why we absolutely have to do better than that.
The Louisville Teacher Residency offers one way forward, and interested applicants can learn more and apply here.