LOS ANGELES (CBS) — U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan teamed up with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other local officials on Friday to push for the recruitment of more minority teachers in Los Angeles, saying minority students often respond better to them.

“I believe education is the civil rights issue of our generation, and if you care about promoting opportunity and reducing inequality, the classroom is the place to start,” Duncan said during a roundtable discussion at the Roybal Learning Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said “it’s no secret” that students respond better to those who share similar ethnic backgrounds.

“We need to show kids that teaching is an honorable and challenging but ultimately very rewarding profession,” Villaraigosa said. “Minority teacher recruitment is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty in our low-income minority communities.”

72 percent of the pupils in the Los Angeles Unified School District are Latino, but Latinos represent only 32 percent of its teaching staff.

The U.S. Education Department’s TEACH campaign aims to increase the number and diversity of people seeking to become teachers, and encourages minorities to pursue careers in the classroom.

Also on the panel today were Grammy Award-winning singer John Legend and boxer Oscar de la Hoya, who are actively involved in education reform issues.

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Comments (13)
  1. bdj says:

    It’s great that the mayor and feds are calling for more minority teacher, but there are several issues to contend with. First you need to have student that want to be teachers. With the way that education funding has been handled in the past few years, there is very little monetary incentive. Even if you take money out of the picture, you still need qualified teachers, not just someone with a BA degree.

  2. Carol says:

    I hate it when things are decided on race. What would the outcry be like if a white neighborhood only hired white teachers because the students would “responde better to similar ethnic backgrounds.” Shameful.

    1. bdj says:

      This is politics at is worst. I shouldn’t matter if a teadher is black or white, Hispanic or Asian. What matters is if they are qualified to teach, and have no criminal background.

  3. Gonzo says:

    This is the epitomy of studid does as stupid is. Imagine if a non-minority came out and said, “white students respond better to white teachers” they would be chastized and labelled a racist immediately! What does the color of one’s skin have to do with education. Children are color blind and all they want and deserve is an opportunity to learn.

  4. fish wrap says:

    How about we dump about 50% of illegals out of the district and the ratios should be good

  5. Ridgeley says:

    Antonio, slow down a little!

    Yes, it’s very important for all kids to see people like them in the schools and the community, but to make a blanket statement that students respond better to teachers who share ethnic backgrounds is flat out wrong. We make connections with other people for all sorts of reasons, and personality and likes/dislikes are a couple of them. Those have nothing to do with ethnic or racial background.

    If teaching is a noble and honorable profession, I hope Antonio is talking to his fellow politicians. Right now we teachers are the whipping children for every ill that has befallen states and cities in the last several years.

  6. Lis says:

    I couldn’t have said it better Ridgeley. Thank u =)

  7. rescued sammie says:

    What is their definition of “Minority” teachers? If this is not racism, then what is?

  8. Richard says:

    So was Tonys teacher a short little Mexican macho womenizer and thats were he got his smart’s? way to go Villar keep it racist!

  9. Califather says:

    I totally agree. This is racist on two counts. The assumption that Latinos can only learn from Latinos and the assumption that white teaches cannot teach Latinos because are white. The mayor is right: it IS no secret. It is an assumption and a racist one at that.

  10. Buck says:

    Dude. Mayor. Everyone. Have u been to lausd campus lately. White is the minority. My white daughter gets bonus points in this city cause she is white. Go figure. So yes more white teachers please

  11. quelizabeth says:

    Is villaraigosa’s statement based on any kind of research, or is it just his twisted point of view. Minority teachers? are you kidding me? What does ethnic background has anything kids learning. They need good teachers, not “Minority” teachers. First he sues LAUSD on basis of discrimination, and now, he’s being a racist against teachers! He wants minority students to come into the teaching profession? why would anyone want to do that. Teachers are treated as second class citizens, we have no respect, specially from him, the big bully, that is destroying public education.I have to disclose that I am a “minority” teacher. But I am a good teacher based on my education and hard work, not because of my race.

  12. Bob Preston says:

    Antonio Whateverhisnameis is a genius. Why didn’t the Superindentent of Education think of that? Base hiring decisions on race. California doesn’t have near enough lawsuits filed against it right now — let’s add some more. (BTW, it figures that Obama’s dummy is right there to nod his No Child Left Behind head.)

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