The Department of Education under Biden’s leadership has recently announced multiple millions of dollars in the form of funding for colleges in order to train up more minority teachers.
In their announcement, the Department of Education stated that it had $8 million in a federal funding grant program as of Friday “aimed at increasing the diversity of the teacher workforce and preparing teachers to meet the needs of our most underserved students.” Named after the first black politician elected west of the Mississippi River, Augustus F. Hawkins, the grant provides federal funding to help assist in supporting the preparation of teacher programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), so-called “Minority Serving Institutions,” and “Tribal Colleges and Universities.”
“At a time when we need to do more to support our teachers and the educator profession, Hawkins Centers of Excellence will help increase the number of well-prepared and qualified teachers, including teachers of color, in our workforce,” stated Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education, as part of a Friday press release officially announcing the program. “We know that teachers of color benefit not only students of color, but all students. When students of color can see their backgrounds and experiences reflected in their teachers, we see higher levels of student achievement and engagement in school, and more students aspiring to be teachers themselves one day.”
The “Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence” program will look for teacher training programs within these various schools that “propose to incorporate evidence-driven practices into their teacher preparation programs.” Because of the fact that these schools educate a disproportionate number of minority teachers, they are “uniquely positioned to recruit, prepare, and place teachers who will provide culturally and linguistically relevant teaching in underserved and hard-to-staff schools,” expressed the Department of Education via its press release.
This brand new program will also put a heavy emphasis on multilingual teachers, highlighting applicants who “propose projects designed to increase the number of well-prepared teachers from diverse backgrounds, as well as bilingual and multilingual teachers with full certification.”
“Today’s teacher workforce does not reflect the demographics of the nation’s public school students,” stated the Department. “More than 50% of public school students are students of color, yet in 2017-18, the most recent year for which data were available, only 21% of teachers were teachers of color. And while English learners are the fastest growing public school student demographic, comprising more than 10% of America’s enrollment, most states face a shortage of bilingual and multilingual teachers prepared and qualified to teach this population and foreign languages. These roles are critical for ensuring Americans can compete in the increasingly globalized economy, equal access to education opportunity for English Learners, and the creation of a strong economy in which all Americans can thrive.”
The program was first started back in 2008 under Part B of Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965. This year marks the first time the program has actually been funded since its inception.