March 7, 2024

McCrory Highlights Friday Deadline to Apply for Teacher Diversity Scholarship

Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, speaks at a press conference in the Legislative Office Building
Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, speaks at a press conference in the Legislative Office Building

Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, reminded students and parents Monday of a fast-approaching deadline to apply for the Aspiring Educators Diversity Scholarship Program intended to promote more diversity among teachers in Connecticut classrooms.

McCrory, co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, held a morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building to urge eligible students who are enrolled in an approved educator preparation program to apply before Friday, March 15, to receive up to $10,000 in scholarships annually.

“This program represents an investment in a future where Connecticut students from all backgrounds can see themselves reflected in their teachers,” McCrory said. “Scholarships like this are a critical step in addressing systemic barriers in education and ensuring that the teaching profession is accessible and appealing to folks from all walks of life.”

In order to be eligible for a scholarship, a student must come from a diverse background and graduate from a public high school in one of Connecticut’s 16 Priority School Districts.

Priority Districts are set by the State Board of Education and in the 2023–2024 school year include: Ansonia, Bridgeport, Danbury, Derby, East Hartford, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Norwich, Stamford, Waterbury, and Windham.

Connecticut schools have long had a diversity gap between the racial backgrounds of students and teachers. For instance, students of color made up roughly 52.5% of the student population during the 2022-23 school year, while educators of color accounted for just 11.2% of the educator population, according to a report by Education Reform Now Connecticut.

In an effort to address this gap, state lawmakers created the scholarship program, which is administered by the State Department of Education. Following an application period in November, the agency awarded scholarships to 29 Black, Latino, and Asian students who are enrolled in education programs at the University of Connecticut, Western Connecticut State University, and several other Connecticut universities.

The legislature allocated $4 million to support the program in fiscal year 2024 under the two-year state budget passed last year, which included another $10 million for the scholarships FY 2025.

McCrory said Monday he was committed to preserving this funding during negotiations for this year’s budget adjustments and planned to pursue expanding the program to the state’s 36 Alliance Districts, more than doubling the number of school districts where students would be eligible to participate.

“This is a great program — one we need to extend to more kids in more underserved districts,” McCrory said. “This isn’t just about fairness, it’s about enhancing our quality of education by ensuring Connecticut classrooms provide a diverse scope of perspectives and voices.”

Posted by Hugh McQuaid