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Curriculum, Supervision, & Educational Leadership

CWU receives state grant to increase educators of color for state classrooms

CWU—the largest producer of certified teachers within the state—is studying new ways to increase the number of students of color seeking to become teachers.

The Washington Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) recently selected CWU, along with several other higher education institutions, to participate in the PESB Pilot to Policy Grant: Advancing Systemic Equity. The goal of the program is to develop and implement policies and procedures surrounding issues of racial equity and local community engagement.

“To initiate our effort, the grant team will go on a statewide listening tour to hear from current students of color in our ‘Grow Your Own’ (GYO) partnerships, current CWU teacher candidates of color, and recent CWU alumni of color from our various teacher education programs,” said Professor Grace Blum, from CWU’s Department of Education, Development, Teaching, and Learning.

CWU’s highly regarded GYO programs already help school districts develop staff from within their local communities to address hard-to-fill positions.

Blum collaborated on the grant proposal with her faculty colleagues Eric Hougan and Keith Reyes, both from the Department of Curriculum, Supervision, and Educational Leadership. Blum and Hougan work at the CWU-Des Moines and CWU-Pierce County University Centers, while Reyes is based in Ellensburg.

“We will be able to see both the challenges and opportunities our teachers of color face through analyzing their progression from being high school students themselves, to applying and enrolling as teacher candidates, graduation, certification, and to teaching in the field,” Blum continued. “This type of comprehensive review will allow us to assess the effectiveness of our current institutional support around racial equity and, based on the findings, craft and implement an Equity Vision and Action Plan (EVAP).”

Blum, Hougan, and Reyes are also members of CWU’s newly formed School of Education Diversity and Equity Committee.

“We will present our findings and recommendations to this committee, laying the foundation for the subsequent approval of the formal EVAP by the School of Education,” Hougan added.

Year 2 of the grant will focus on the implementation of the approved action plan.

“We believe the plan will include developing a formalized mentorship network that supports our GYO students of color, current teacher candidates of color, and recent alumni of color from our teacher education programs,” Reyes stated. “We will also look to communicate and hear feedback from all stakeholders at the university, and incorporate this input into policy.”

In the last five years, CWU has experienced a dramatic, campus-wide increase in its enrolled students of color. That is born out in the percentage of Latinx teacher graduates, which rose between 2012 and 2017 from 7.9 to 14.3 percent. However, during that same timeframe, the percentage of African American teacher graduates remained virtually unchanged, growing slightly from 1.4 to 1.8 percent.

“The focus of this work is crucial to teacher education as a whole and our work at CWU as we seek to increase access and recruitment of underrepresented populations into the profession,” stated Ron Jacobson, executive director of the CWU School of Education. “As one of the largest producers of teachers in Washington, and with a reach across the state, CWU is perfectly situated to take on this challenge.”

CWU typically certifies between 300 and 350 new—and needed—teachers, principals, and school psychologist each year. The university now has teachers working in 70 percent of Washington’s schools.

“In the long term, along with more recruited and enrolled teacher candidates of color, we want to see the number and scope of community partnerships increased,” Hougan noted. “We need to shape a seamless system of transition and support for our teachers; beginning with those interested in pursuing teaching as a career, to create a support network with resources for teachers of color in the workforce.”

The two-year PESB grant program will continue through June of 2019. 

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487, Robert.Lowery@cwu.edu.

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