What will it take to transform the narrative about the teaching profession—one of the most honored professions there is? How do we associate different ideas, words, and images with this profession, especially for communities of color? At MnEEP, we work to answer these question every day.
To lead more people of color to the profession—to connect to emerging change makers and nation builders—we have to elevate the teaching profession inside and out. This means sharing the power of teaching and attracting those who see teaching as justice. This means providing teachers, particularly teachers of color and American Indian teachers (TOCAIT), with what they need to be leaders in the classroom.
With the launch of our newest website, ImprintU.org, we aim to provide the tools, reflections, and community space for prospective TOCAIT to find new pathways into the education field. We are excited about this launch and opportunity to connect with future TOCAIT who will help to shape Minnesota’s future.
Currently, Minnesota’s student population is becoming increasingly diverse, yet teachers in Minnesota don’t reflect this growing group of students. While American-Indian students and students of color make up 30 percent of K-12 students in Minnesota, only 4 percent are teachers of color and American Indian teachers. Nationally, teachers of color and American Indian teachers comprise 18 percent of the teacher workforce. This is a serious problem for all students in the state.
Students, especially students of color, are hungry to see themselves reflected in their schools. It’s important for them to feel they belong to an environment that will nurture and develop their brilliance. It’s a multicultural world, and all our students need to be prepared for it.
Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we elevate the teaching profession and work to attract those who see teaching as justice. Teaching as turning poison into medicine. Teaching as the opportunity to have lasting positive imprints on the future.
Some argue that focusing on “attracting” more to the profession is fruitless, since there are too many issues that need to be addressed especially for TOCAIT: school climate, lack of administrative support, racism/discrimination, teacher pay … the list is long. Of course we must work to support TOCAIT once they are in the system. Of course we must invest in authentic retention efforts. Of course we must continue to fight for racial equity for teachers and the students. However, I take the long view and truly believe this is not an either/or solution, but a both/and solution. Attitudes and mental models matter. Sense of agency matters.
It is in reimagining a different future for Minnesota—one where Minnesota’s diverse population sees themselves reflected in teachers, and where teachers have opportunities to be justice heroes and nation builders—that Imprint was born.
We hope you will join us in building race equity in education in Minnesota by becoming the next justice hero, the next nation builder, the next changemaker in Minnesota.