Diversity in education is a topic of growing discussion, though most conversations fail to appreciate the role that diversity in teaching has on student success. The World Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (WAIE) sees this disparity as an opportunity to provide students with representation within and outside of the classroom. WAIE prioritizes a culturally responsive curriculum taught by a diverse body of educators along with robust workforce readiness and higher education preparation programs, equipping our students in becoming the next generation of ethical educators.
In 2014, the number of students from non-European backgrounds enrolled in U.S. public schools surpassed that of European-American students for the first time in history. While diversity within the classroom has continued to increase, only about 20% of educators come from non-European backgrounds, where many students will rarely see their identities reflected in the people teaching them. While the diversity in representation in public schools is bleak, it is even dimmer in most private institutions. This lack of representation hinders immediate and long-term learning, impacts the types of careers students seek out, and ultimately contributes further to existing social and economic inequities.
Research has testified that having a teacher of the same race and/or ethnic background can have positive impacts on student outlooks, improve motivation, and increase achievement outcomes. Further, it has been shown that educators from non-European backgrounds have more constructive and optimistic expectations for their non-European students’ achievements than their European-American counterparts. The ingrained biases of instructors have significant implications for their scholars’ success.
While there is a good amount of attention given to the “achievement gap” between students of differing backgrounds within the United States and beyond, this frame of mind wrongfully places the emphasis on the input of individual students. By reframing the issue as an “outcome gap,” we can see how low test scores are a product of an ineffective system of education, whereby the core of the issue is in the ways that we are (and are not) engaging with students.
We at WAIE are committed to deconstructing these disparities by increasing the diversity in teaching and learning within our community and beyond. Education is one of, if not the, most powerful and impactful institutions for growing minds. By providing scholars with materials and educators from diverse backgrounds, exposing students to professionals and potential role models in the field of education, and committing to the promotion of success for all students, we hope to encourage and inspire the next generation of leaders in global education.