February 25, 2019

Local Teachers Support Bradley Bill to Increase Minority Teacher Hiring, Recruitment and Retention

photo of Senator Bradley.

During a press conference, State Senator Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport) talks about the importance of increasing diverse teaching populations in Connecticut as educators Sheree Baldwin-Muhammad (middle) and Ryan Brown (left) look on. February 25, 2019).

BRIDGEPORT, CT—Today at a press conference, local teachers gave their support for State Senator Dennis Bradley’s (D-Bridgeport) bill to increase minority teacher recruitment and retention in Connecticut Schools. Bradley said he is committed to seeing this legislation through. He said diverse teacher populations in Connecticut schools must become our new normal.

“What we’re establishing are guidelines as to what is normal, and right now what normal equals in a lot of school districts, including Bridgeport, is not including people of color in terms of being able to facilitate ways to make them educators,” said Sen. Bradley. “The goal is to have a plan which will ensure every child has an opportunity to have a teacher of color in the classroom that can positively impact their lives.”

If passed, Senate Bill No. 462 “AN ACT CONCERNING GUIDELINES FOR INCREASING DIVERSE TEACHING POPULATIONS,” will establish guidelines to be used by local and regional boards of education that will assist in increasing the number of minority teacher hires by at least two percent annually over the next five years and may include provisions relating to teaching assistant programs that encourage minority high school students to pursue a career in teaching. Bradley said a collaborative effort is needed for this legislation to be effective.

Ryan Brown, an African American man who teaches seventh grade Math at Read School, said he fully supports this proposed legislation. Brown said although some progress has been made, there is much more which should be done to truly diversify the teaching profession in Connecticut.

“While it is promising that our state has already begun the work on improving minority teacher recruitment and retention, we need to take bigger steps,” said Brown. “Our student population is becoming increasingly more diverse, but our teacher of color population is falling behind, failing to close this gap. If we want our students of color to know they are welcomed in the teaching profession and to view it as a viable profession; we have to show them examples.”

Sheree Baldwin-Muhammad, an African American woman who teaches second grade and has 25 years of experience in the education field, agreed with Brown and added that increasing the diversity of teaching populations in Connecticut will benefit students academically, too

“I firmly believe that the population of teachers should mirror that of their students,” said Baldwin-Muhammed. “That is not to say that any quality teacher, of any race cannot teach students of color well. However, research has proven that when students of color are taught by the same race, students feels more comfortable, show more interest and effort in their work and have higher college aspirations.”

The bill was referred to the Education Committee on January 24. Sen. Bradley said he is committed to increasing minority teacher recruitment, hiring and retention and he is looking forward to working with his colleagues to get this legislation passed.

“We’re going to try our hardest to make sure it happens this year,” said Sen. Bradley. “It’s a collective effort and we’re hoping other legislators see the positives and pros of this bill.”