Indiana scholarships fail to attract diverse teachers

INDIANAPOLIS — Scholarships from an Indiana program meant to diversify and recruit the next generation of teachers have gone largely to white students so far, an Indiana agency says.

State officials hope to lessen the state’s teacher shortage with $10 million in Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarships, but the scholarships have failed to attract students who would increase diversity among Indiana’s teachers, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Just 11 of the 200 recipients of the first round of scholarships were underrepresented minorities, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Only 31 were men.

“We know the challenge and we are working to reach those students,” said Joshua Garrison, associate commissioner for legislation and program implementation. “But it’s going to take an effort from all across the state to address it across the board.”

State data show that fewer than 5,000 of the state’s 58,000 public school teachers were nonwhite during the 2016-17 school year.

“Diversity is inherently valuable,” a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Education said. “We are stronger as a nation when people of varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives work and learn together; diversity and inclusion breed innovation.”

The scholarships offer up to $30,000 over four years if students commit to teaching in Indiana schools for five years after graduation.

Applicants must be in the top 20 percent of their high school class or score in the top 20 percent on standardized tests. Applications are judged based on students’ class rank, test scores, awards and honors, a writing sample, a presentation and interviews.

The application process is deliberately rigorous because students must fully repay the scholarship funds if they fail to fulfill the teaching requirement, Garrison said.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com