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In Yonkers, NYSUT’s ‘Take A Look At Teaching’ Summit Focuses On Diversity

Published Monday, October 7, 2019
by Sylvia Saunders/NYSUT Communications
In Yonkers, NYSUT’s ‘Take A Look At Teaching’ Summit Focuses On Diversity

(YONKERS, NEW YORK) - An urgent call for a more diverse Teaching Workforce was front and center at New York State United Teachers’ (NYSUT) Take a Look at Teaching Summit in Yonkers late last week, as students, Educators, community activists and state policymakers explored ways to make that happen.

“New York State’s student demographics ‘are changing but our education workforce is not keeping up,’” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene DiBrango.

While 43% of students statewide are Hispanic/Latino or African-American, just 16% of the teachers are.

Yonkers Federation of Teachers President Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, who co-hosted the summit with DiBrango, said the Union is working to expand the district’s “Grow Your Own” Program to convince promising Yonkers students to become Educators and come back home for their career.

She asked how many Teachers in the audience were Yonkers natives and many hands went up.

“We’re ‘making progress, but we still have a long way to go,’” Rosado-Ciriello said.

In Yonkers, 77% of the students are Hispanic/Latino or African-American, while 26% of the Teachers are.

DiBrango said the Union’s initiative is aimed at elevating the profession and encouraging students and career-changers from all backgrounds to take a look at teaching.

She noted enrollment in New York’s Teacher Preparation Programs has declined 53% since 2009.  “That’s ‘scary,’” DiBrango said. “We ‘need’ Teachers ‘in the pipeline.’”

NYSUT is also focusing on beefing up support for Educators early in their career.  “We want to work on ‘retention just as much as recruiting,’” DiBrango said. “Those ‘first five years are tough.’”

The summit, which was the sixth in a series of events around New York State, was a Who’s Who gathering of elected officials voicing their support for the initiative.

Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayer (Democrat-Yonkers) said the State needs to do everything it can to encourage new people to enter the profession and make it more diverse and that it’s time to lift up the profession and get the word out about how rewarding the career can be.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a former Teacher herself, told the students how good it feels to be that role model, the one who helped a youngster beat the odds “because you stood in front of the room and told them: ‘You can do this,’ and ‘You matter.’”

To Directly Access This Labor News Story In Its Entirety, Go To: www.nysut.org/news/2019/october/in-yonkers-take-a-look-at-teaching-summit-focuses-on-diversity - And You Can Learn More About NYSUT's Take a Look at Teaching Initiative At nysut.org/lookatteaching.

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