School District U-46 plans to partner with Tennessee State University in Nashville to bring more diversity to its teaching staff.
A draft contract with the historically black university provides for up to 10 teacher candidates to spend their final year working at U-46 schools and then teaching at district schools for another two years, the school board announced during of its meeting on Monday evening.
District data shows only about 2% of U-46 teachers are black, a number that has remained constant for a decade, while 6% of U-46 students are black – about 2,160 of the district’s 36,000 enrollees .
The 2021 State of Illinois Report Card website said 34 of U-46’s 2,267 teachers were of black descent.
“We have to do something (about this),” board member Eva Porter said.
Teresa Lance, U-46 assistant superintendent for equity and innovation, said under the proposed deal with the state of Tennessee, which the board is expected to approve June 20, up to 10 seniors majoring in education would come to Elgin for the 2023-2024 academic year. .
“If we can get them to do their residency with us, we’re ahead of the game,” Lance said. “No other district in the state of Illinois is doing this, so we’re really trying to move forward.”
Students would complete their residencies, graduate and then spend two years working as teachers at U-46 schools, she said. Through the program, they would obtain a teacher’s license in Illinois and Tennessee.
“We hope they spread the good word about us so we can attract more (teachers of color),” Lance said.
Tennessee State was the first historically black university to help launch the program, she said. Now district administrators are in talks with 20 other historically black schools to do the same, she said.
Lisa Jackson, director of U-46 diversity, equity and inclusion, said the effort could also attract potential educators from other backgrounds, as more than 24% of students at historically black colleges and universities come from demographic groups other than black, she said.
Students coming to Elgin would stay in accommodations provided by Judson University, but would not be Judson students, U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders said.
The contract with the State of Tennessee requires the district to pay approximately $75,000 to cover a monthly stipend of $750 for up to 10 teacher candidates.
Once that’s in place, the district will move forward with finalizing a contract with Judson for housing, officials said.
In addition to students living close to each other to help avoid a sense of isolation in a new city, they plan to have more than one student placed at the same school, Lance said.
“That’s the key. It’s smart,” Porter said.
The current starting salary for U-46 teachers is $50,000 to $70,000, depending on education and experience. These salaries include a comprehensive benefits package and a two-year mentor support program.
Mike Danahey is a freelance writer for The Courier-News.