Chemeketa is at the table discussing the importance of students seeing people like themselves standing at the front of Oregon classrooms. Students of color make up 36.4% of the state’s Kindergarten through grade 12 population but only 8.5% of Oregon’s teacher workforce was nonwhite according to the Oregon Department of Education assessment for 2014-15 school year. Two Chemeketa students recently participated with Governor Kate Brown on a panel addressing the importance of ethnic equity in instruction.
“Every student needs that experience of having a teacher who they can connect with in their own language, trust and ask for a lot of help,” said Chemeketa education student Jennifer Alonzo-Madrigal in an e-mail edited for brevity. Alonzo-Madrigal attended the April 15 Oregon Educator Equity Summit along with fellow student Jose Mangana and Chemeketa education program staff and faculty.
Mangana wrote in an e-mail that he believes an emphasis on increasing the diversity of our teaching workforce will have broad benefits.
“A diverse workforce can also provide insight to the different cultures and backgrounds those students come from, providing us all valuable insight and strategies to better serve them. Beyond the impact it can have on students, a diverse teaching workforce can also benefit the staff, as having various points of view can only strengthen staff climate and continuously challenge each of them.”
Chemeketa is addressing the acute need for bilingual teachers in Oregon. We have designed a special program with tuition assistance for Spanish-speaking students who pursue a degree in education.
“Most people of color have obstacles they have to overcome every day,” wrote Alonzo-Madrigal. “Giving us a program where we can meet other people like ourselves and have mentors of color is the best way to recruit, prepare and support candidates of color like me who want to become educators.”