The University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL has introduced the Holmes Scholarship program with the aim to increase the number of teachers from underrepresented groups.
Nine students have accepted full tuition scholarships. In return they agree to teach in schools in northeast Florida once they graduate.
Jarred Jackson, one of the nine students who received a Holmes Scholarship stated that “it’s exciting to me that I can give back to my community as a positive role model. Knowing that I can go in the school system and affect a child’s life is very exciting.”
The University of North Florida enrolls just over 14,000 undergraduate students and more than 2,000 graduate students, according to the latest data supplied by the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up 9 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Some 15,000 guests joined Teach For America at its Washington, D.C. gathering in February to celebrate the organization’s quarter-century anniversary. On this milestone, the group’s army of teachers, alumni, and allies – now numbering 50,000 – commemorated the past, but fixed their eyes on the future.
At the top of TFA’s agenda going forward is recruiting teachers of color to meet the needs of the nation’s exploding Latino student population and African-American pupils who are struggling to close the academic achievement gap.
The ballooning growth of Latinos and the simultaneous decline of the White population have resulted in a significant demographic shift among students. The 2014 – 2015 academic year marked the first time that minority schoolchildren—Latino, African-American, and Asian—outnumbered their White counterparts, Education Week reported.
However, the teaching force has failed to keep pace with this major shift. According to U.S. News, only 17 percent of educators are people of color.
The problem, according to numerous studies, is that minority students perform academically better under the guidance of teachers of their own race or ethnicity.
“We find that the performance gap in terms of class dropout and pass rates between white and minority students falls by roughly half when taught by a minority instructor. In models that allow for a full set of ethnic and racial interactions between students and instructors, we find African-American students perform particularly better when taught by African-American instructors.”
Why do minority students tend to perform better with teachers who look like them? The study reported in U.S. News says teachers of color are often better motivated to teach in racially segregated, poor schools. What’s more, they typically have higher academic expectations of their pupils and better understand their culture.