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Recruitment and Retention of Teachers of Color: BUSD Can Do More

The following speech was given at the November 15, 2017 Board of Education meeting
by BFT Teachers of Color Network Facilitators Gloria Munoz-Hughes and Lucero

Good evening Board Members and Dr. Evans,

My name is Gloria Muñoz- Hughes and I am a co-facilitator for the Teachers of Color Network. Tonight we’d like to present a number of focal points that we hope to partner with you into bringing to fruition this year.  

The first point we present to you is in regards to our hiring timeline. Simply put, we need to move the timeline up. BFT supports moving up the timeline in order to hire  highly qualified teachers of color. A number of neighboring districts begin their hiring process much earlier in the calendar year. For example, Oakland Unified begins initial screening processes for hiring in January and we are confident that neighboring districts follow suit. As a result, these districts are able to both retain first-year temporary teachers of color and other teachers that students and families have already built relationships with, as well as recruit new, great first year teachers of color. Many highly qualified teachers of color leave our district for districts that guarantee a probationary contract much earlier in the spring. And tonight we’d like to recognize the outstanding efforts that our consultant, Kacy Hatcher Robinson, has made thus far in this work.

The BFT Teachers of Color Network, and BFT,  believe strongly that our students and families need teachers who look like them and who don’t look like them: teachers who reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of their students are role models and set a standard for achievement, simply by having achieved.  White students and families also need role models who are the counter-narrative.  A lot of white students have a diverse group of peers, but are still around only white adults (e.g. family, neighbors, teachers). This is a disservice to the white students because they unconsciously are taught and learn to accept that only white people can be professionals.

Ultimately, if BUSD is committed to recruiting and retaining Teachers of Color, the time to act is now.  What are we waiting for?  We must act with a sense of urgency and priority.

My name is Lucero Lupercio and I am a co-facilitator for the Teachers of Color Network. The second point that we would like to present to you is prioritizing Classified Pathways in order to ensure that students of color have teachers of color who look like them, and ALL students have a diverse group of teachers. The current LCAP pilot needs to be reconfigured to be able to include more classified employees. In this year’s first round, there were 17 classified employees working towards teaching credentials who applied for Classified Pathways! Out of the 17 who applied, only 2 candidates qualified for support from the LCAP pilot based on the current structure and criteria. BUSD needs to provide opportunities to a wide variety of our classified staff, who are working towards Bachelor's degrees and Associate of Arts degrees that are required for acceptance into credential program.

BUSD needs to make Classified Pathways a priority and long term commitment. BUSD received a grant from the California Classified School Employee teacher training program to support 12 aspiring teachers. As stated in the grant, we ask that BFT is involved and informed about the recruitment plan.  

Finally, in order to retain teachers of color, support needs to be provided for all the stakeholders in a child’s education, including but not limited to students, instructional assistants, after-school teachers, tutors, classroom teachers and principals . There need to be continuing opportunities for ethnic studies for both students and employees. In the past, a 3-day cultural competency course was offered to all teachers, but not to all classified staff. In the earlier stages, this academy intentionally brought together both our classified and certificated staff and was tremendously powerful. Classified staff are impactful teachers for students. In order to address the needs of all students in our district, they also need the training and support provided for certificated teachers.

We ask that Berkeley Unified School District stay committed to the recruitment and retention of teachers of color by moving up the hiring timeline, reconfiguring the LCAP pilot for Classified Pathways, providing transparency and support for the California Classified School Employee teacher training pipeline, and provide ongoing support for all staff through ethnic studies. Thank you.