College, K-12 School System Partnership Seeks to Increase Diversity of Teaching Workforce

McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., and Howard County Public Schools officials recently announced an effort to improve workforce diversity in the school system by providing full-tuition scholarships to low-income high school students who commit to three years of employment in the Maryland school system after graduation.

The initiative, called Teachers for Tomorrow (T4T) and deemed the first program of its kind, comes at a time when many school systems are struggling to increase the diversity of their teaching workforce. On a national level, the percentage of minority K-12 students greatly exceeds that of minority teachers.

T4T will target academically successful low-income students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school; nearly 87 percent of those eligible are minorities.

Officials of Howard County school system — in which it’s estimated only 15 percent of teachers are African American, Asian, or Latino — cite a recent study showing that low-income students are 20 percent less likely to attend college than their peers as the reason for the program’s focus.

The program will likely include no less than 12 students for at least four years, and it will not be limited to only those interested in teaching. Students wishing to pursue a different major are still eligible to participate in the program as long as they intend to minor in education and earn a teaching certificate.

McDaniel College President Roger N. Casey told The Washington Post that he is happy to partner with the county on the project, as he sees the effort as a continuation of the university’s interest in serving first-generation college students. Forty percent of McDaniel’s freshman class are first-generation, while 36 percent are students of color, according to Casey.

At McDaniel, a private liberal arts college of about 1,700 full-time undergraduate students, tuition is about $50,000 per year; however, through T4T, Howard County will pay $12,000 for each student in the program. McDaniel will cover any additional costs that are not funded by state and federal aid, officials said.

According to Casey, students will not be expected to take out loans.

County Schools Superintendent Renee Foose said the effort is intended to not only help diversify the school system, but to provide opportunity to students and improve the community as well.

“We’re changing the lives of students who otherwise would not consider a college education at McDaniel,” she said.