Teachers of color pitch proposals to increase ranks

Teachers of color lobbied at the state Capitol on Tuesday for proposals they say will help increase teacher diversity and support students of color.

A state Education Department report recently found an increase in newly licensed teachers of color, but teacher diversity statewide still lags far behind student diversity.

The state teachers' union, Education Minnesota, and other advocates called for increased student loan forgiveness and funding for alternative training programs and mentoring.

"I'm asked frequently to sit on committees, to be a part of many different things, to give training to other teachers of color. It's actually adding more burden on me because I'm teaching, and then I have to prepare and do all those things," said Roseville teacher Roberta Hernandez Rasmussen, noting a lack of policies that help retain teachers of color.

Another Roseville teacher, Maria Le, said her district does carve out time for teachers of color to meet together and suggested that model could be applied elsewhere.

The teachers also advocated for more school support staff, like counselors and social workers, and expanded use of restorative justice, which can be used to address discipline problems.

"You can hire teachers of color to do that checkmark. But actually, do administrators want teachers of color? Do they have the professional development to work with teachers of color? Are they working on their own racism?" Minneapolis teacher Soraya Valedon-Lopez asked.

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