Forever a Teacher: Lifting the Voices of Our Educators of Color
Ed Trust Louisiana Announces Their State Teacher-Led Advocacy Efforts to Diversify the Teacher Workforce and Highlight Actionable Solutions to Recruit, Retain, and Support Teachers of Color
Baton Rouge, La. – As Louisiana schools and districts struggle to fill teacher vacancies, students are directly impacted by the lingering effects. Teachers are leaving the classroom in record numbers, but teachers of color are the least likely to stay in the profession. State and district leaders must take action to recruit, support, and retain teachers of color.
Today, Ed Trust in Louisiana launches its “Forever a Teacher” campaign, which highlights the voices of Louisiana teachers of color who have stayed in the classroom and continue to inspire the next generation of educators to enter the teaching profession.
The campaign aims to build awareness, advocacy, and action around the need to recruit and retain teachers of color across the state. This coalition of teachers hopes to use their voices to push for policy solutions that have been created by teachers for teachers, who are often left out of the decision-making process.
The need for teacher diversity is vast. In Louisiana, 55% of the student population are students of color, but only 26% of the teacher workforce in Louisiana are teachers of color. That gap will only continue to widen unless action is taken. Additionally, Black and Latino students are more likely to attend schools with greater numbers of novice teachers than their White peers. Ed Trust data shows that while novice teachers bring energy and passion into the classroom, oftentimes, the steep learning curve of the first few years affects student learning. This is why it’s important to retain and support new teachers entering the profession, especially as enrollment in teacher preparation programs decline.
“As a former teacher myself, I know all too well the challenges that must be overcome to stay and grow in the educator profession. Teachers are dealing with numerous challenges, and if they are not supported, they will continue to leave the profession,” said Tramelle Howard, state director of Ed Trust Louisiana. “The best chance at combating this issue is to uplift and listen to our teachers of color who have stayed in the classroom and push for policies that center around their knowledge and experiences.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issues already plaguing school systems. By tackling the issue of teacher diversity, state leaders can ensure that students have a stable and strong teacher workforce that mirrors the demographic of their students. Students of color who have teachers who look like them tend to have higher achievement scores and are more likely to graduate high school. And all students, regardless of racial or ethnic background, benefit socially and academically from having a teachers of color.
“I am forever a teacher because representation matters and being able to relate to my students and create a space where they feel heard and seen keeps me going,” says Destiny Harris, a Black teacher from Baton Rouge. “But I know sometimes that is not always enough to keep teachers in the classroom. That is why this teacher-led campaign is calling on state leaders and policymakers to act now to ensure we do not let our kids go another school year without highly qualified teachers.”
Increasing the racial and cultural diversity of the teacher workforce in Louisiana will take a statewide commitment. The Forever a Teacher Campaign is just the starting catalyst to spotlight the importance of having teachers of color in Louisiana and finding tangible solutions that are shaped by the leading voices in the classroom.
The #ForeverATeacher Campaign will officially launch on Tuesday, September 6, with an ongoing social media campaign, which leads into the #ForeverATeacher Social Mixer kickoff event on Wednesday, September 7, from 5-8pm CT.
Take the #ForeverATeacher Campaign Pledge: Sign up and take the pledge to commit to the campaign’s goal of uplifting teachers of color in Louisiana and supporting the work of Ed Trust Louisiana to increase the percentage of teachers of color in Louisiana to 50% of the teacher workforce over the next three to five years.