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Teach for America, a nonprofit aimed at eliminating educational inequality, is partnering with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) to start a Latino teacher recruiting initiative to helps solve the apparent deficit of Latino teachers in the U.S.
More than 21 percent of children enrolled in schools are Latino, while only 7 percent of Latinos are teachers. Experts advocate for a diverse staff, claiming that it might direct students to have better attendance and get higher test scores.
The partnership will allow students who are apart of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund program to be recommended for the Teach for America program by way of a new scholarship aimed at college students majoring in any STEM area of study (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The HSF scholarship recipients will be top picks for the Teach for America program and therefore boost the amount of Latino students considering a career in education
"We believe that there is a profound additional impact by having a shared background. Afterall, 90 percent of the people we are serving are Latino or African American," said, Teach for America Vice President of Diversity & Inclusiveness Amanda Fernandez. "We do believe that a shared background can help foster that notion of seeing themselves in a teacher, someone that sees a role model."
But could having a Latino teacher really enhance the way the students learn?
New studies have incited the two organizations to start a new initiative to recruit Latino teachers. A Pew Hispanic Center study found that just 19 percent of Latinos 25 and older – versus 35 percent of the general population –have an associate degree or higher. The Pew Hispanic study also says that nearly three-quarters of Latinos who cut their education short during or right after high school said they did so to help support their family.
“Teach For America shares our belief that demographics do not determine academic achievement,” said Frank Alvarez, president and chief executive officer of HSF. “They have been a valued partner over the past four years, and we are looking forward to expanding this partnership in support of Latino college students on the road to graduation.”
Currently 8 percent of the Teach for America program applicants are Latino while 40 percent of the students the program serves are Latino.
Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach for America recently said about the partnership that the goal is to “increase the number of excellent Hispanic teachers in classrooms across the country and strengthen the educational resources available for Latino students.”
According to the 2010 Census, Latino children number 16 million and make up 22 percent of the U.S. population under 18. While 92 percent of these children were born in this country, 58 percent have at least one immigrant parent.
County recruiters at schools are desperate for Latino staff, sending job announcements to colleges with high Latino populations including Puerto Rico, and hiring teachers that are still learning Spanish.
“They look around their school and they don’t see one person who looks like them unless they are a janitor or on the support staff. We are losing young minds.’’ Enid Gonzalez, a lawyer with CASA of Maryland, an immigrant advocacy group told the Washington Post.