At last: Black colleges included in national discussion on teacher prep

An extremely important event (that got scant notice in the press) has brought a key segment of the education community back into the national ed reform dialogue.

June 9th, over 1500 representatives from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) convened in D.C at the invitation of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and the White House Initiative on HBCUs to address the nation’s need for more high quality teachers.  The teacher education programs of HBCUs continue to produce over 50% of America’s practicing black teachers.

In what was both a shameful and encouraging observation, Dr. Leonard Haynes, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs noted this was “the first time that the education department sought to enlist HBCU teacher education programs to help formulate strategy to address….a looming teacher shortage.”

Secretary Arne Duncan addressed the meeting, which  also featured a report from two of the nation’s leading Black teacher educators that found Black and Latino students gained the most from having National Board Certified teachers in their classrooms. Duncan responded with a call for a “critical mass” of NBCTs.

The timing of the meeting is interesting given the recent ruckus over a proposed cuts to HBCUs by the Obama administration in its first budget. Nevertheless, I am encouraged that these long-standing and longsuffering sources of Black teachers have at least been acknowledged for their past and future contribution to American education.

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