FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Beshear administration and education leaders from around Kentucky are renewing an effort to increase diversity in the classroom.
What You Need To Know
- Gov. Beshear, Lt. Gov. Coleman, and Kentucky's education leaders are relaunching the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching
- The initiative aims to recruit and retain an increasingly diverse workforce of educators
- During the 2019-2020 school year, only 5% of Kentucky's teachers identified as non-white
- 25% of Kentucky K-12 students are non-white
Gov. Beshear, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, and Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass on Thursday announced the relaunch of the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching (KAET), a statewide initiative to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce of teachers.
“This initiative will help us to recruit, develop, and retain a highly effective, diverse, and culturally competent workforce of teachers and school leaders,” Beshear said in a statement. “This is an urgent goal for the success of every Kentucky student, school, district and community, and I am committing state funding for this effort.”
Almost 61% of Kentucky’s student population last school year was considered economically disadvantaged. According to Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) statistics, during the 2019-2020 school year, about 25% of students identified as a race other than white, while only about 5% of teachers identified as non-white.
“Research has shown that when students see a teacher who looks like them or shares their background, they do better in the classroom,” said Thomas Woods-Tucker, Kentucky’s deputy commissioner of education and KDE’s first chief equity officer.
KAET will focus on three key areas: Inspiring, Preparing, and Educating the future — and current — teacher workforce in the commonwealth. The initiative provides grants, mentoring, and training, as well as support for recruitment.
“Educators are given the wonderful responsibility of helping shape the future of the commonwealth by serving our children,” Glass said. “But we have too few people wanting to become teachers and too many teachers leaving the field shortly after they start. We especially have too few people of color, too few men and too few individuals from lower-income backgrounds currently in the teaching profession. It’s important for our students to see people who look like them at the front of a class, whether we are talking about race, ethnicity, economic background, disability or gender.”
Diversity in education can lead to increased student achievement, lower dropout rates, and other positive outcomes, the KDE said. Lt. Gov. Coleman looks forward to the state working together to achieve equity and diversity.
“Every student in the commonwealth deserves equitable access to excellent educators who have unique experiences and perspectives and are committed to their success,” Coleman said. “Kentucky’s education leaders, and we as educators, have a shared responsibility in ensuring that this becomes a reality.”