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Board talks improving diversity

Friday, November 8, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County School Board on Thursday heard a report on and discussed the school division’s recruitment efforts to increase staff diversity.

Christy Landon, the school division’s director of human resources, presented national statistics from the U.S. Department of Education showing the percentages of education degrees conferred by race/ethnicity and by gender in the 2010-11 academic year.

Nationally, education degrees conferred by race/ethnicity broke down as follows: bachelor’s — about 82 percent to whites, about 7 percent to blacks, about 6 percent to Hispanics and about 2 percent to Asians; master’s — about 76 percent to whites, about 11 percent to blacks, about 7 percent to Hispanics and about 3 percent to Asians.

Nationally, education degrees conferred by gender broke down as follows: bachelor’s — 79.6 percent to women and 20.4 percent to men; master’s — 77.3 percent to women and 22.7 percent to men; doctor’s — 68.2 percent to women and 31.8 percent to men.

Landon also presented 2010-11 statistics from the Virginia Department of Education dealing with race/ethnicity of Virginia public schools instructional personnel (excluding principals and assistant principals) and students.

The racial/ethnic breakdown was: whites — 54.1 percent of students and 83.4 percent of teachers; blacks — 24.1 percent of students and 12.8 percent of teachers; Hispanics — 11.4 percent of students and 1.9 percent of teachers; Asians — 5.9 percent of students and 1.5 percent of teachers; other — 4.5 percent of students and 0.4 percent of teachers.

The gender breakdown of Virginia public schools instructional personnel (excluding principals and assistant principals) for 2010-11 was 80.4 percent women and 19.6 percent men, according to the statistics.

Landon also talked about challenges to increasing staff diversity. She said according to the Virginia Department of Education: “States are accountable for implementing the No Child Left Behind Act of (2001) law, including the goal of 100 percent highly qualified teachers in ‘core academic subjects.’ The term ‘core academic subjects’ as defined in ... (NCLB) legislation, means English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography. ‘Highly qualified’ requires that the teacher hold a Virginia license, with endorsements in each of the core subject(s) she or he teaches.”

“We want a more diverse network of high-quality professionals, but the pool of qualified candidates is small,” Landon said. “Unfortunately, the pool of qualified minority candidates is even smaller.”

“We will continue to work diligently to identify candidates and opportunities to diversify our work force,” she added.

As for additional recruiting efforts, she said the division is or will be trying to identify more colleges with diverse populations in close proximity to attend career fairs.

Also, the division is or will be trying to increase its online recruiting presence, such as recruiting through college and university career centers/job boards; using HBCUCareers.com, an online career resource center for about 95 participating historically black colleges and universities; and taking part in online job fairs, Landon said.

The division will looking at “growing our own” programs, through such things as working with existing employees who want to become teachers, including partnering with colleges to make sure there’s a smooth transition, Landon said.

Other ways “to grow our own” are, on the secondary level, the Teacher Cadet Program, the Oh Henry Internship Program and job shadowing opportunities; and on the college level through Patrick Henry Community College’s Career Switcher Program, Old Dominion and Averett universities’ teacher preparation programs, and New College Institute, she said.

Other opportunities to identify more diverse candidates are local church groups that can help get the word out, local ministerial associations, college day and college night events, and fraternity and sorority alumni associations, Landon said.

She said that the school division “has not been monitoring race and ethnicity of all applicants” to Henry County Public Schools’ website, but “this will be done going forward. Data will be recorded from applicants who supply it voluntarily and reported in aggregate (not by individual).” That demographic data will not be available to the committee interviewing the candidate, according to Landon and Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton.

Landon said the school division’s current recruiting efforts include having a team consisting of human resources representatives and administrators from elementary, middle and high schools from diverse backgrounds who represent the school division at a variety of job fairs throughout the year. Some of the recruiting fairs attended are at historically black colleges and universities, she said.

The school division’s current online recruiting efforts include the school division’s website using TalentEd Recruit & Hire Applicant Tracking and Hiring Management System, and for hard-to fill-positions, Teachers-Teachers.com, a national website.

During a discussion by the board, Blackberry District school board member Rudy Law, among other things, asked about the possibility of recruiting in large metropolitan cities. Landon said Henry County Schools’ salaries are much lower than school divisions in Northern Virginia, and many young people don’t evaluate the lower cost of living here.

Iriswood District school board member Curtis Millner said the school division should look into giving financial incentives to school division employees who refer qualified applicants who are hired as teachers.

Cotton also said division officials have met community leaders to discuss recruitment efforts.

 

 
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