DIVERSITY in Ed Magazine


Diversity recruitment guide for prospective teachers and school employers.

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DIVERSITYinEd.com — 36 — Spring 2018 Issue IN THE CLASSROOM Latina Teachers in the Classroom By Glenda M. Flores L atinas are the fastest-growing nonwhite group entering the teaching occupation in the United States, far outnumbering African American and Asian American women. Today, women of Latino origin comprise near- ly 18% of the teachers in California compared to approximately only 8% in 1997. Moreover, Latino children comprise one out of every five public school students in K-12 schools nation- wide and over 50% of California's student pop- ulation, signaling a "Latinization" of schools and the teaching profession. In my new book, Latina Teachers: Creating Ca- reers and Guarding Culture, I show the impact of the growing numbers of Latinas who are becom- ing teachers in two Southern California multira- cial schools in Los Angeles. I show how they are reshaping the ways our schools are run and our children are taught. Latina teachers often work in schools embedded in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations and racial/ethnic minority families. My research investigates how and why Latinas — many of whom hail from im- migrant families and are the first in their families to attain a college degree — are entering the teaching profession and how they help students navigate educational institutions in two major- ity-minority elementary schools. Latinos' dom- inance in education is especially pronounced in Los Angeles, where Latinas/os constitute al- most 30% of teachers and Latino students now make up nearly two-thirds of the K-12 popula- tion. Many of these students are disadvantaged, and 58% of Latino youth in Los Angeles have at least one undocumented parent. How can we explain the startling discovery that teaching has now emerged as the top oc- cupation drawing Latina college graduates? As I discovered when I began interviewing these women, the majority said they had not specifi- cally planned on a career in teaching. Rather, a series of social factors constrained and enabled Latinas into the teaching occupation. Family fi- nancial constraints, as well as the burgeoning demand for bilingual, bicultural teachers, espe- cially in the 1990s, combined with the financial feasibility of the shorter educational prepara- tion for the teaching career, and recruiting ef- forts served as magnets drawing Latinas of di- verse backgrounds into the job. In many cases, Latinas indicated they were the preferred labor

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