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CAMPUS & CAREER GUIDE : Alliance Helps Recruit Minority Teachers

February 04, 1996|SANDY BANKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Six years ago, San Francisco State University professor Kevin Franklin set out to address what he considered "a national crisis"--a shortage of minority teachers in a country where students are more likely than ever to be black, Latino or Asian American.

Since then, his Multicultural Alliance has produced more than 200 new teachers--dispatched to classrooms across the country--through a combination of teaching internships, college scholarships, mentoring and personal support.

The program, with help from participating schools and universities, recruits college students, primarily from fields other than education, and provides them with paid internships and scholarships to finance their studies toward teaching credentials.

"The alliance gave me an incredible opportunity to teach [and] to earn my master's in education with a full scholarship," said Chris Chatmon, 28, who teaches history at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School in San Francisco's tough Hunter's Point area.

During his two teaching internships with the alliance--one at Marin County Day school and the other at a New England private school--Chatmon said he "realized this was my calling." Now he is trying to help his school recruit more alliance interns.

The alliance, Franklin said, "is kind of like a family." Each intern is assigned a mentor teacher, who helps with issues such as teaching techniques and classroom management. And they meet monthly with other interns and alumni.

"I've been surprised by the amount of caring," said Keidra Morris, 22, who is interning this year in a 12th-grade English class at Los Angeles' private Windward School. "There's always somebody saying 'How are you doing?' and helping you to find ways to be a better teacher."

Franklin says the personal touch pays off. The program has placed 99% of its interns in full-time teaching positions. And in six years, 95% of its graduates have remained in teaching. Overall, 30% of new teachers leave the profession in three years, and 50% leave within five.

In 1990, minority children made up 31% of the nation's public school students. By the year 2000, they are expected to account for almost 36%. In private schools, about 22% of the students are minorities.

But only 13% of the nation's 2.5 million public school teachers are minorities, and 8% of the 340,000 private school instructors.

"The need for minority teachers is so great," Franklin said. "Forty percent of the schools in this country have no people of color on their faculties."

Los Angeles schools are hosting 23 alliance interns this year, said Los Angeles coordinator Andrea Venegas. Most are training in private schools, she said, "because they have smaller classes, and the workload . . . is more manageable."

The alliance works closely with area colleges and some, such as Chapman College in Orange County, offer student interns flexible schedules and reduced tuition on education credential courses.

"Everyone's focusing on making this a successful experience," Franklin said.

The Multicultural Alliance can be reached via its Internet Web Page at www.branson.org/mca

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