Stepping Up Minority Teacher Recruitment in Connecticut

Principals, Human Resources directors and superintendents from the state’s major urban school districts gathered for two days in New Haven to meet with representatives from historically black colleges and universities about bringing their graduates to Connecticut for education jobs.

“To discuss how we can create a pipeline of minority teachers from the south up to the north to get into our classrooms,” said Scot X. Esdaile, president of the NAACP of Connecticut, which co-hosted the symposium with New Haven Public School.

Debbie Breland grew up in North Carolina and graduated from Fayetteville State University.

“Being an HBCU graduate I was recruited to New Haven back in 1987 to come teach high school English,” Breland said.

Almost thirty years later, Breland is now the New Haven School District’s minority teacher recruitment coordinator.

Only about a quarter of teachers in New Haven Public Schools are black and Latino, while minorities make up 80 percent of the student population, Breland said.

“There aren’t a lot of minorities going into education as they used to be,” she added.

Officials from the state’s Department of Education addressed the guests from the HBCUs.

“So that they would understand the certification process in Connecticut and they can take that information back and try to make it even with their educational programs to ready their students to come to Connecticut to become teachers,” Breland said.

Beyond recruiting education majors from the south, Breland said the district hopes to inspire its own students to consider careers in education.

“I have a daughter who is a senior in high school and she aspires to be an elementary school teacher,” Breland said, “so I’m adding to it by growing my own, so eventually she’ll be in a classroom teaching autistic children.”

Retirements are partly to blame for the dwindling number of minority teachers in urban school districts, Esdaile told NBC Connecticut.

New Haven is hoping to recruit minorities to fill both teaching and administrative positions, Breland said.

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