15 State & National Groups Launch Coalition to Recruit 1,000 New Teachers of Color for Florida's Schools

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A major statewide coalition, lead by the Urban League of Greater Miami, will work to recruit more than 1,000 talented new teachers of color for Florida’s schools over the next two years. T. Willard Fair, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami and the vice chairman of the Florida State Board of Education, will officially announce the new Teach & Inspire Florida coalition in Miami on Monday.

Teacher quality is the most significant determinant of student achievement, and the Teach & Inspire campaign has placed a strong emphasis on recruiting teachers who possess the high levels of subject matter expertise and teaching knowledge necessary to increase student achievement in the classroom

A major statewide coalition, lead by the Urban League of Greater Miami, will work to recruit more than 1,000 talented new teachers of color for Florida’s schools over the next two years. T. Willard Fair, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami and the vice chairman of the Florida State Board of Education, will officially announce the new Teach & Inspire Florida coalition in Miami on Monday.

Teach & Inspire Florida is designed to augment the effective teacher recruitment efforts of the Florida Department of Education and individual school districts statewide.

Florida faces a severe teacher shortage crisis, with a need for tens of thousands of new teachers every year. Additionally, the percentage of teachers of color in Florida is not representative of the percentage of students of color. Fifty two percent of the state’s students are Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian or multiracial but only 25 percent of teachers are individuals of color.

“For our state to succeed and compete, we must have a truly diverse and talented teacher workforce,” Fair said. “Community groups need to work together to take on the awesome responsibility of tackling the teacher shortage crisis. This crisis threatens the quality of education for all of Florida’s students.”

The initiative will kick off the campaign with three teacher recruitment events in Miami next week (http://www.teachandinspire.org/events). Over the next several months, the coalition will develop a Web site, work to generate corporate sponsors to underwrite certification fees for qualified teacher candidates, design a promotional campaign and hold additional recruitment events. Teach & Inspire Florida will be the first community-based teacher recruitment effort of its kind.

The coalition, sponsored by the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), has attracted a broad base of organizational support.

Coalition supporting partners include the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA), the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA), the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC), ASPIRA of Florida, the Urban League of Palm Beach County, the Jacksonville Urban League, the Florida Consortium of Charter Schools, Junior Achievement of Central Florida, the Mexican American Council, the Florida Education Foundation, and Rep. Rafael Arza, Chairman of the Florida House of Representatives PK-12 education committee.

“Florida faces a severe teacher shortage crisis. This coalition provides an alternative and innovative method for recruiting the best possible teachers for our classrooms,” said Jim Warford, Executive Director of the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA), and Ruth A. Hall, FASA president.

“I fully support the Urban League of Greater Miami’s Teach & Inspire Florida coalition to achieve a bigger, better, and more diverse pool of talented teachers for our state's students,” said Rep. Rafael Arza. “I believe the Legislature can be a full partner in this endeavor. We can expand our newly-created First Generation in College program and enhance our teacher loan forgiveness and minority scholarship programs. This would be a huge step toward quickly opening the door to teaching careers for potential talented minority teachers.”

Three national advocacy groups -- the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the Center for Education Reform -- have also backed the Teach & Inspire initiative.

“Teacher quality is the most significant determinant of student achievement, and the Teach & Inspire campaign has placed a strong emphasis on recruiting teachers who possess the high levels of subject matter expertise and teaching knowledge necessary to increase student achievement in the classroom,” said Kate Walsh, NCTQ president.

"This coalition focuses its efforts where they should be -- on children and on increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in compliance with No Child Left Behind regulations,” said Center for Education Reform President Jeanne Allen. “Particularly noteworthy is ABCTE's Passport to Teaching program, which encourages successful professionals from other fields to take up the calling they may be considering to become teachers."

ABCTE is a national non-profit organization dedicated to recruiting, certifying and supporting excellent teachers essential for achieving student success. ABCTE offers the state-approved Passport to Teaching program, an affordable and flexible route to teacher certification specifically designed to recruit talented career changers into the teaching profession. More than 500 Floridians are currently pursuing the program.

“ABCTE is proud to sponsor this important initiative,” said Tony Colón, chairman of the ABCTE board of directors. “Now more than ever before, students need excellent role models and teachers who will inspire them to succeed and achieve. Across the county, America faces an achievement gap. Without excellent teachers who have a firm grasp of cultural competence in the classroom, we will never be able to ensure that all children -- regardless of race or socioeconomic status -- get the education they deserve.”

“The reason ABCTE was created was to help solve the teacher recruitment gaps that persist in America,” said ABCTE President & CEO David W. Saba. “ABCTE continues to invest significant resources in communities that are hardest hit by the teacher shortage. With advertising, events, and a comprehensive partnership and corporate scholarship program, we are confident that Teach & Inspire Florida will truly make a difference.”

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