April 13, 2021
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, Educators and Scholars Urge Support for First-of-its-Kind Legislation to Diversify the Teaching Workforce
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) were joined by education leaders today to urge support for new legislation designed to help support male educators of color and diversify the teaching workforce.
Assembly Bill (AB) 520, sponsored by State Superintendent Thurmond and authored by Assemblymember Gipson, received unanimous approval from the California State Assembly Committee on Education last week. The bill would establish the California Diversifying Teacher Grant Program, awarding $15 million in grants for school districts to provide one-time competitive grants that develop and implement new (or expand existing) programs that address a local need to develop the teacher workforce while emphasizing the retention of male teachers of color.
“We regularly talk about equity, but we must make equity the forefront and center in our schools. This bill is about adding tools to the toolbox and creating the opportunities to motivate more men of color to be in the classroom. The research is undeniable," Gipson said. "The National Bureau of Economic Research reported that having a Black teacher for one year in elementary school raised long-term education attainment for Black male students, especially for those from low-income households. AB 520 would provide schools with the tools to help them build a more diverse teacher population and students with opportunities to succeed.”
State Superintendent Thurmond added, “This is a movement that is taking place all across the country as people are building pipeline programs to expand opportunities for male educators of color. We know we need more educators of all backgrounds, but there is a particular need to diversify our workforce. The research has shown for years that there are benefits to students of color when there is just one educator of color on a campus, and those benefits extend to all students. At the end of the day, this is going to benefit students from all backgrounds.”
During Tuesday’s news conference, a California school district leader shared the real-world impact programs to diversify the teaching workforce has had on student achievement.
“I firmly believe when we as a district increase the number of male teachers of color, we deepen our commitment to diversity and achieving educational equity while also providing a source of inspiration for our students who see male teachers of color as positive examples of their future selves,” stated Micah Ali, President of the Board of Trustees at Compton Unified School District, where fewer than 1 percent of students are white. “By having role models that look like and have similar backgrounds as their students, we help to create a positive campus climate for all. I am confident that AB 520 will lead to a tidal wave of Black and brown male excellence in the classroom, like the one that is sweeping the universities, boardrooms, entrepreneurship and, of course, academia.”
Research validates the goals of AB 520, said Dr. Travis J. Bristol, Assistant Professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education, who serves as the chair of Superintendent Thurmond’s Teacher Diversity Advisory Group and whose work has also supported the Council of Chief State School Officers’ 10-state educator diversity initiative.
“We see in the state of California there is a demographic mismatch between teachers and students: Approximately 75 percent of students in our public system are students of color when compared to 40 percent of teachers of color. Even more concerning, is that the school-based experience of Black boys is similar to Black male teachers—Black boys are suspended and expelled at higher rates than their peers, and Black male teachers have a higher rate of turnover than their peers,” Bristol said. “AB 520 is a bold and comprehensive piece of legislation that addresses the life course of a teacher. It provides funding to districts and county offices to recruit and support mentoring of teachers of color and coaching for school leaders on how to create environments that can attend to the social and emotional needs of our children and our teachers. We need the California Legislature to pass, and for Governor Newsom to sign, AB 520 so California can stand as a leader in diversifying the teacher workforce.”
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100