Faculty and staff in the School of Education at Seattle Pacific University recognize the magnitude of demographic differences between educators and the K-12 students they teach. There are several ways to describe this phenomenon:
- The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that white students will represent 46 percent of public school students in 2024, a drop from 51 percent of the student population in 2012;
- Most of the education majors in teacher preparation programs are white; in 2012 only 25% of individuals enrolled in teacher preparation programs were people of color;
- The composition of bachelor’s degree students who pursue an education-related major is less diverse than that of similar students who major in other fields; while 62% of all bachelor’s degree students in 2012 were white, 73% of students majoring in education were white;
- In 2012, only 20% of public school principals were individuals of color;
- In 2012, 76% of teachers were female, though the students they taught were 49% male (Department of Education, 2016).
Resolving demographic differences is a significant challenge that requires overcoming a number of obstacles. Nevertheless, ensuring all students achieve their full potential and experience school as a place of compassion, equity, and purpose for attainment of individual and collective good requires careful attention to resolving demographic differences between educators and the students they teach.
Equity Action Plan
One way the School of Education is addressing this issue is by following its Equity Action Plan, which was authored by a committee of equity advisors. Committee members were community leaders with broad representation and special and practical knowledge of cultural diversity. The committee included representation from John Perkins Center, Multicultural Education Rights Alliance, School of Theology, School of Education Diversity Committee, teacher candidates, building administrator, field supervisors, and program faculty.
Cultural Diversity Development
Another way the School of Education is addressing demographic differences is by providing development for students, staff, and faculty in the area of cultural diversity. Cultural diversity constitutes the existence of various cultural and ethnic groups within society and the way culture influences education. Some essential concepts linking cultural diversity to education include cultural competence, equity pedagogy, and culturally responsive teaching. A collection of development materials exemplifying the School of Education’s commitment to resolving demographic differences by preparing graduates with understanding of cultural diversity follows.
- Preview to Cultural Diversity for Educators
- Teacher Belief and Equity
- Leading a Class Discussion on Cultural Diversity
- Culturally Responsive Supervision