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Students need teachers who look like them

Published On: May 06 2014 05:15:10 PM CDT   Updated On: May 07 2014 08:04:27 AM CDT

A new study makes clear that Madison is not the only school district in the country wrestling with attracting and retaining more teachers of color. With nearly half the students attending U.S. public schools being nonwhite, fewer than one in five teachers are minorities themselves. And while good teachers are good teachers, we know that seeing a successful adult who looks like them leading a classroom can help motivate a student to achieve.

A new study makes clear that Madison is not the only school district in the country wrestling with attracting and retaining more teachers of color.

With nearly half the students attending U.S. public schools being nonwhite, fewer than one in five teachers are minorities themselves. And while good teachers are good teachers, we know that seeing a successful adult who looks like them leading a classroom can help motivate a student to achieve.

We appreciate the complexity of this situation. But we are again struck by the need to elevate teaching as a profession in this country. And that effort can easily begin by our elected officials stopping attacking teachers for political reasons.

Years of political disputes have resulted in actions designed to make teaching an unattractive profession. We need to take a lesson from countries where teachers are respected, supported, admired and adequately compensated.

From there we can figure out what we need to do to get more smart students of color to pursue teaching as a career.

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