Hayre Institute will aid in teacher diversity campaign

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

A Philadelphia-based institute aimed at training student teachers as urban classroom specialists and then recruiting them to full-time jobs in Philadelphia schools highlights the five-point action plan of a new campaign for improving the diversity of the District’s teacher workforce.

The Dr. Ruth Wright Hayre Urban Teaching Institute, which will recruit college students nationally and then prepare up to 100 student teacher “fellows” each year for urban teaching positions, is slated to open in September 2006. The announcement was made by School District officials, U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah, and other partners at a joint April news conference. Temple University’s College of Education and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education are supporting the effort.

At least 50 percent of the institute’s fellows will be teachers of color. Congressman Fattah pledged to secure a grant to support the institute.

“Urban teaching is a specialty,” said School Reform Commissioner Sandra Dungee Glenn, who has pushed for the teacher diversity campaign. She added, “And there are myths about the urban classroom that we want to explode.”

The institute is named for the first full-time African American teacher in the Philadelphia public school system, who was also the first African American senior high school principal and the first African American and woman president of the Board of Education.

Dungee Glenn said that to improve the effectiveness of the teacher workforce, action was needed to narrow the substantial gap between the total percentage of teachers of color in Philadelphia – 38 percent – and the combined percentage of Black, Latino, and Asian students – more than 85 percent.

Other components of the teacher diversity campaign include:

  • new marketing efforts aimed at recruiting teachers from universities with large African American and Latino enrollments in nearby states and Puerto Rico.
  • a test preparation initiative to improve the pass rate among teachers of color on the Praxis exam required for teacher certification.
  • a “cultural proficiency” program to help teachers connect their instruction with students’ diverse cultural experiences, with proposed cultural proficiency standards to be applied in evaluating school staff.
  • a teacher diversity advisory council of community-based partners that will advise the District on its teacher diversity initiatives.