Minority Teachers in High Demand in Region 8

September 12, 2006 - Posted at 4:49 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- It's no secret, minority teachers are in high demand.  But what kind of recruitment plans do Region 8 schools have for hiring those teachers to their districts?

"The Legislative Act 6-17-1901 requires all school districts in Arkansas that have more than 5% minority students as a group to submit annually a minority teacher and administrative recruitment plan," said Mike Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services & Federal Programs for Nettleton Public Schools.

29% of the Nettleton School District is composed of minorities...compared to only 2.2% of their faculty.  Something Johnson hopes will change.

"Here in Arkansas, up in Northeast Arkansas, the pool is not very great," said Johnson, "We just don't have that many candidates that come in and apply for positions."

Last year, the state of Arkansas graduated 123 minority students certified to teach education and the Nettleton School District was able to hire two of those students as teachers.  But it's a tough competition to recruit minority teachers.

"We were at a job fair recently and if minority teachers were willing to come to Texas and teach they were signing and getting a $3,000 check at that time," said Johnson, "It's hard to compete with that."

Administrators hope by exposing students early, kids can get a taste for teaching.

"There's only going to be a minimum number of graduates that we have as a pool to be able to choose from and then with as many school districts as we have that are vying for those, it will be difficult to meet any kind of a quota, so you just hope that you can home grow some of your students and they will want to go to a local college, graduate and come back to their alma mater to teach," said Johnson.

Schools with minority enrollment greater then 5% must submit their recruitment plan to the Arkansas Department of Education by October 15th.