Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (courtesy)

Last week, the Assembly Education Committee approved AB 520, authored by Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson and sponsored by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, which is designed to help support male educators of color and diversify the teaching workforce.

“Student success is amplified when they are taught by teachers who reflect the diversity of those students. In addition to academic benefits, students of color experience social-emotional gains to having teachers who look like them, also lessening the likelihood of chronic absenteeism and suspension,” Gipson said.

Assembly Bill 520, which will head to the Appropriations Committee next Wednesday, will establish the California Diversifying Teacher Grant Program, awarding $15 million in grants for school districts to provide one-time competitive grants that develop and implement new or expand existing programs that address a local need to develop the teacher workforce while emphasizing the retention of male teachers of color.

“This bill will assist California with addressing the racial and ethnic disparities that exist throughout the state, helping to reduce the equity gap,” Gipson said.

Men of color comprise less than 10 percent of California’s teaching force, with Black and Latino men making up 1 percent and 2 percent of their peers. Data shows that only one-third of teachers are non-White, even though students of color make up about three-quarters of California’s student population.

“When I talk to students, they tell me they want to learn from adults who look like them and have shared their life experiences. There is mounting research that tells us that teachers of color boost the academic performance of all students – but especially students of color. This includes improved reading and math test scores, improved graduation rates, and increases in aspirations to attend college,” Thurmond said.

Statistics show that male teachers are leaving high-need schools when they do not have the support strategies in place to help develop their teaching skills. These support strategies can include but are not limited to social and emotional learning, school climate, trauma and restorative justice.

“We’ve long known that having teachers of color matters for students of color – but our public schools do not reflect this. We can and must do better if we want to dismantle the historic educational inequities in ways that can level the playing field for all students,” Thurmond said.

AB 520 will address retention problems by enhancing a school districts’ ability to equip, cultivate and bolster male teachers of color within its schools to effectively preserve teachers. Schools that foster an environment of professional learning are more likely to attract and retain teachers in high-need schools.