Partnership of School of Urban Education and Osseo Area Schools will ease barriers and increase teacher diversity

Metropolitan State University President Virginia Arthur and representatives from Osseo Area Schools signed a partnership agreement at a ceremony Jan. 30, at Osseo Senior High School.

The agreement enables Metropolitan State’s School of Urban Education (UED) students access to priority placement at Osseo Area Schools for student teaching and priority consideration for hire in Osseo’s paraprofessional and teaching positions. The agreement will increase teacher diversity in Minnesota and ease barriers of entry for prospective teachers of color and place them at work in ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools.

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President Virginia Arthur speaks on the value of Metropolitan State’s new partnership with ISD 279-Osseo Area Schools. This partnership enables urban education pre-service teachers access to priority placement at Osseo Area Schools for student teaching and priority consideration for hire in the district.

Once hired as paraprofessionals, eligible UED students can access Osseo’s career ladder for prospective teachers. The career ladder includes benefits such as paid leave of absence during a student teaching assignment in Osseo Area Schools, first consideration for hire in licensed teaching positions, and up to two additional years of seniority upon achieving continuing contract status.

Signing on behalf of Osseo Area Schools was Superintendent Kate Maguire, E.D.D.

Currently, nearly 30 percent of students in Minnesota schools are students of color and American Indian students, yet 4 percent of their teachers are of color or American Indian. The gap is even wider in many Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota schools with a majority of students of color and American Indian students.

“This is a substantive departure from the traditional student teaching model that puts teacher candidates through 13 to15 weeks of unpaid labor and deters many pre-service teachers of color and American Indian pre-service teachers from becoming licensed teachers. Teacher candidates of color and American Indian teacher candidates often do not have the ability to forgo paid work in order to complete student teaching,” says René Antrop-González, dean of the School of Urban Education at Metropolitan State University.

Metropolitan State delegates at the signing also included Provost Carol Bormann Young,  Tom Cook, special assistant to the president, Greg Mellas, director of the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, professors Rosa Fagundes and Paul Spies of the School of Urban Education, among other faculty and staff. Representatives from Osseo Area Schools also included Judy McDonald, SPHR, executive director of human resources; Kelly Wilson, president, Education Minnesota-Osseo; Becky Hespen, president, Osseo Educational Support Professionals; members of the superintendent’s executive team; other district leaders; and other staff and community members who support this work.

The partnership is a result of ongoing efforts and advocacy by Metropolitan State University,   Minnesota Education Equity Partnership, and the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota to increase teacher diversity across the state. Metropolitan State and Osseo Area Schools are joined with other concerned universities, districts and organizations in this new coalition formed around the common goal to double, by 2020, the current number of teachers of color in the state and ensure that 20 percent of candidates in the teacher preparation pipeline are persons of color or American Indian.

Last August, Metropolitan State University hosted a unique conference organized by the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota designed explicitly for current and aspiring teachers of color. The event was attended by 250 people from more than 100 organizations, school districts, institutions and various racial/ethnic communities throughout the state.

The coalition advocates at the state and local levels for the following policies and investments for systemic change needed to address major barriers to the profession and diversify the teacher workforce in the state:

  • Increasing pathways for diverse youth, paraprofessionals and career changers to enter the teaching profession
  • Eliminating discriminatory teacher testing requirements
  • Providing scholarship incentives, student teaching stipends, and loan forgiveness for teaching service
  • Providing induction and retention support
  • Making changes to ensure climate and curriculum are inclusive and culturally relevant in K-12 schools and teacher preparation programs