Meeting the Needs for Diversity in Teacher Preparation: Using Email Communication to Enhance the Experiences of Teacher Candidates at Two Non-Racially Diverse Colleges in Two Regions of the USA
The need for diversity in teacher preparation in the USA cannot be overemphasized. The racial make-up of classrooms nationwide is changing. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics 37% of the students are considered to be of racial or ethnic minority (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2000). However, nine out of every ten teachers are white. By 2020, minority students will make up 44% of students enrolled in public schools. By 2050, minority students will make up 54% of that same population. Over the last 25 years, enrollment of minority students in both elementary and secondary public schools has increased 73%, compared to 19% of white students. However minority enrollment in teacher education programs nationwide, account for only 15% of all students, while whites make up over 80%.
Experts in the field regard this as an alarming trend that will have far-reaching negative implications for the future and quality of teaching in K-12 schools. It is therefore important that teacher educators be committed to helping teacher candidates, regardless of background, to acquire the appropriate attitudes, knowledge, skills, and dispositions to work effectively with students from different racial, cultural or economic backgrounds. Teacher candidates can only accomplish this goal if they are provided with the tools necessary to function as future teachers in diverse school settings. Anything less, would be a disservice to them.
This study reports on the use of email communication between teacher candidates in two different regions of the United States – Mount Union College in Ohio, in the Midwest and Prairie View A&M University in Texas, in the Southwest. These two institutions have student populations from mainly two racial backgrounds. Mount Union College is predominantly White, while Prairie View A&M University is predominantly African American.
Keywords: Diversity in Teacher Preparation
Dr. Ernest Oluwole Pratt
Associate Professor, Education, Mount Union College