Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman is proposing a statewide implicit bias training for all school staff in Kentucky, largely in response to the protests against police brutality that have been going on for more than a week.
She is also proposing that schools across the Commonwealth recruit more minority teachers. A third propoal is to appoint a non-voting student member to the board.
Coleman, a former school administrator, made the proposals at last week’s Board of Education meeting. During Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily briefing Monday, Coleman said the changes would help schools better represent all the students they serve.
“As we have seen over the past week and a half, our society is crying out for change, and as I look into the crowds of people, I notice often it is our young people leading the way,” Coleman said. “Let me be clear, public education was made to meet this moment.”
Coleman said bias training was important in order to ensure a proper education for all students.
“The issue of bias that all of us harbor is something we must confront,” she said. “Especially if bias is hindering a child’s education.”
Coleman said adding a non-voting student member helps make sure “every group has a seat at the table as we lead Kentucky into the future,” noting that Beshear recently added a teacher as non-voting member for the first time.
Coleman also stressed the importance of developing new strategies and programs to recruit more minority teachers.
“For many kids, the first leader they have outside of their home is their teacher. Kentucky’s kids of color deserve to see themselves reflected in their community leaders,” Coleman said. “All of our children are better prepared for their future when exposed to a diverse community of leaders and teachers.”
Coleman said that in a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, end-of-year test scores are higher for black students who have a black teacher. Black students who have just one black teacher by third grade are 13% more likely to go to college, and black students who have two are 32% more likely.
“We want to work with our colleges and universities, including our HBCUs Kentucky State University and Simmons College, to recruit the best and the brightest who have a passion to change their community,” Coleman said.