Lincoln school district aims to diversify teaching workforce

April 16, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Lincoln’s school district is promoting diversity in Nebraska’s education workforce by encouraging its minority students to consider a career in teaching.

Lincoln Public Schools Multicultural Administrator Thomas Christie hosted an annual workshop Friday for about 60 students of different races to learn about becoming educators, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

Some students who have participated in past workshops now teach at the district, where more than 5 percent of educators are people of color, Christie said.

The district has hired more than 70 people of color in the past five years.

About 33 percent of the district’s students are racial or ethnic minorities.

Recruiting and hiring minorities is challenging because there aren’t many students of color pursuing education degrees, Christie said. Those who do are in high demand, he said.

Nebraska would need to hire seven times more African-American and Native-American educators and 11 times more Hispanic educators to reflect the state’s current student population, according to Matt Blomstedt, state education commissioner.

The state Education Department has joined nine other states in an initiative aiming to revise state policies to create a more diversified workforce by 2020.

Encouraging educators from other states to move to Nebraska is also difficult, Christie said.

In 1997, Lincoln Public Schools convinced Jai Burks to move from Louisiana to Lincoln, where he teaches instrumental music at Park Middle School. He’s one of 45 black educators in the district.

“I figured if I could be an educator, I could bring along people who didn’t have the advantages I did,” Burks said at the Friday workshop. “I could bring them along through music.”

North Star High School Principal Vann Price is the only principal of color in the district.

She told students at the workshop, “Ten years from now I want one of you to be a principal at LPS.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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