Testifiers detail need to develop diversity in education workforce

PA Legislative Black Caucus co-hosted roundtable on educator pipeline

HARRISBURG, May 23 – Testifiers detailed the need and desire for the diversity in Pennsylvania classrooms to mirror the diversity in the education workforce. The Pennsylvania House Majority Policy Committee co-hosted the roundtable with the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus on the need for an educator pipeline for teachers of color as part of the Leroy K. Irvis Day of Action at the Crown Plaza.

“Teachers enable a pathway to a greater future for all our young people,” said hearing host state Rep. Regina Young, who represents portions of Philadelphia. “It was great to hear from the panelists supporting the need for more Black teachers and supporting people of color to become teachers, but it was inspiring to see so many young people in the room who could become the teachers for the next generation. Speaking from my own experience, it’s necessary for students to make that connection with the teachers and mentors who see more in you than you see in yourself.”  

Testifiers talked about the jarring statistics that 80% of teachers are white, which means students of color may never be taught by a person of color. Experts detailed that depending on the teachers’ background, they might not be culturally proficient – leaving a gap in learning and development.

“The outcomes and academic achievement for Black students and students of color improve when they have just a single Black teacher or a teacher who is a person of color to help pave the way for students’ greater connections to the school,” said House Majority Policy Committee Chair Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, who represents portions of Erie County.

Testifiers detailed the reasons there is a need for a Black educator pipeline and a Latino educator pipeline, including the need for children of color to experience an education that includes teachers that reflect their households – improving the ability of students to relate to their educators.   

Submitted testimony from the roundtable can be found here. A livestream of the hearing can be found here.

Thursday’s House Majority Policy hearing featured testimony from Danielle Martin, the Academic Success Coordinator at Temple University Harrisburg; Sharif El-Mekki, the CEO for the Center for Black Educator Development; Shelby Jones, the instructional coordinator for Harrisburg School District; and Tamira Howard, the assistant principal for Central Dauphin East High School.

Young and state Sen. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) led the roundtable discussion with panelists.

Information about this hearing and other House Majority Policy Committee hearings can be found at pahouse.com/policy. Photos to be used for publication can be found at pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee/Galleries.