Nashville, TN – Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen awarded funds to five school districts today for Diversity Innovation Planning Grants, with Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools receiving nearly $7,700.
These grants underscore the department’s commitment to supporting a high-quality, diverse, and effective educator workforce that meets the needs of all students.
“Diversity is something we honor and respect. As a district focused on continuous improvement, it makes sense that having a high quality, diverse teaching force would be an integral part of making this school district even better,” according to CMCSS Director of Schools Millard House II.
Tennessee has focused on fostering an educator pipeline that improves diversity, equity, and teacher shortages, as illustrated in the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act plan. To encourage innovative practices in districts around recruiting diverse, high-quality teachers and to better reflect the student population of Tennessee’s public schools, the department launched the Diversity Innovation Grant program.
“We are incredibly honored In Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools to have received this grant. Ideally, we want our educator population to mirror our student population,” said Dr. Phyllis Casebolt, director of educator quality. CMCSS will use the funds to develop creative solutions to increase the diversity of its applicant pool by expanding diversity recruitment efforts, as well as developing and implementing a “Grow Your Own” teacher pipeline.
“Our districts share in the challenge of recruiting, hiring, and retaining educators who reflect the backgrounds and diversity of all their students,” Commissioner McQueen said. “We know that students benefit when they can learn from educators who have similar backgrounds, and these grants will allow our districts to intentionally focus on increasing the diversity of their faculty to better meet the needs of every child.”
Statewide, the teaching workforce does not reflect the diversity of the student population. About 35 percent of Tennessee’s students are African-American, Hispanic, or Native American.
However, only 15 percent of Tennessee educators identify with those racial and ethnic groups. As of 2014, out of 146 school districts, 122 did not have a single Hispanic teacher and 27 did not have an African-American teacher. Research continues to show that students benefit from having teachers who have diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, especially when those are similar to the student’s own experience.
The department has committed Title II, part A funds for two rounds of a competitive application process. The first set of funding includes $35,000 for Diversity Innovation Planning Grants, which provide districts with resources to develop a theory of action and project plan, while the Diversity Innovation Implementation Grants will allow districts to implement those plans and focus on the practice of increasing the diversity of their teaching workforce.
The Tennessee Department of Education reviewed the submitted proposals and selected five districts to receive the Diversity Innovation Planning Grants. Selections were based on the proposal’s strength in the areas of planning for project activities, support, and budget:
- Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools
- Fayette County Public Schools
- Humboldt City Schools
- Knox County Schools
- Metro Nashville Public Schools
Applications for the Diversity Innovation Implementation Grants are available to districts now and due on November 15th, 2017. The department will then select grantees for implementation funding.
Candice McQueen, Clarksville Montgomery County School System, CMCSS, Every Student Succeeds Act, Grants, Millard House II, Nashville TN, Phyllis Casebolt, Tennessee Department of Education