For Immediate Release
Thursday, November 18, 2021

ISBE announces pilot with 24 colleges and universities to develop recruitment and retention plans for future teachers of color

​Pilot will pave the way before plans become a requirement for all educator preparation programs next year 

​SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced that 24 colleges and universities in Illinois have volunteered for a pilot to develop plans to recruit and retain future teachers of color. The pilot will help establish best practices ahead of ISBE requiring all 54 Illinois educator preparation programs to develop plans next year. 

“The diversity of Illinois is one of our state's greatest strengths – including in our classrooms," said Governor JB Pritzker. “By recruiting faculty of color who share their students' lived experiences or expand their perspectives, our schools can empower more students to achieve their goals and pursue their passions. This pilot program is just the beginning of ISBE's recruitment efforts and I commend the leadership of the 24 colleges and universities who have volunteered to spearhead this initiative with us." 

"I applaud the 24 colleges and universities that have volunteered to lead the way in breaking down barriers for people of color to join the teaching profession," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “All students, and especially students of color, benefit from having diverse educators throughout their school experiences. My own mentors in my career have been people of color like me. When the role models and people in positions of authority in our lives look like us, that shapes our perception of our place in the world in a positive and powerful way." 

The recruitment and retention efforts are part of ISBE's three-year strategic plan, which includes the goal of increasing teacher diversity in Illinois public schools. The 2021 Illinois Report Card released last week showed that 82 percent of practicing Illinois teachers identify as White, whereas only 47 percent of Illinois public school students identify as White. 

Research from the Learning Policy Institute shows that teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color, including reading and math test scores, graduation rates, and aspirations to attend college. Studies also show that students taught by teachers of the same race are less likely to be chronically absent and less likely to experience exclusionary discipline. 

The number of teachers of color in the profession has grown incrementally over the past three years. The pilot announced today will help speed that progress by supporting programs in addressing their specific barriers to increasing candidate diversity. Pilot participants will draft their plans, receive feedback from a peer review committee composed primarily of Diverse and Learner Ready Teacher Network members, and meet to exchange ideas and collaborate. Pilot participants will finalize their plans by May 31 and reconvene in the future to dialogue about what strategies worked. 

“Rockford University is situated within a diverse community. We believe that our students of color deserve to have educators that look like them," said Gina Braun, Education Department Chair at Rockford University. “This not only benefits Black and Brown students but also White students, who will also have the opportunity to see and experience the intellectual authority and gifts of an educator of color. Through this work, our university team and community partners hope to recruit and retain more teacher candidates of color and continue to work with local school districts to not only increase teachers of color but to support all teachers to be fair and equitable educators." 

“At Dominican University, we value diversity, equity, and inclusion and acknowledge differences between people as a valued asset," said Josephine Tabet Sarvis, PhD, School of Education professor and Teacher Education Programs director for the College of Applied Social Sciences at Dominican University. “We know that successful teacher preparation requires a mutual collaboration and a synergy of effort among partners who share responsibility for creating environments in schools and in university classrooms dedicated to best practices and professional growth. We are participating in this pilot to support efforts to bring university and school districts together in the recruitment of a diverse teaching corps." 

The colleges and universities that volunteered for the pilot, listed along with contacts for media, are: