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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Brookings Forum on Equity for Black Americans Explores Strategies for Biden Administration

The Brookings Institution has a forum, “Around the halls: What should the Biden administration prioritize in a policy agenda that promotes equity for Black Americans?,” which includes presentations by Brookings experts on 14 subtopics, including:

Ensure access to vaccines and prioritize jobs and income – Camille M. Busette
Baby bonds and the child tax credit – E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Enforce higher standards on artificial intelligence – Alex Engler
Economic reforms should redress injustices of the past and provide equal opportunity now – William G. Gale
Ensure Black Americans are included in the COVID-19 vaccination programs and economic relief, and continue pursuing police reforms – William A. Galston
Prioritize teacher diversity in public schools – Michael Hansen
A policy agenda to support Black America must prioritize drug reform – John Hudak
Require all banks to offer very low-cost basic accounts – Aaron Klein
To embrace Black humanity, the Biden administration must embrace restitution – Rashawn Ray
Focus in particular on the barriers to opportunity faced by Black men and boys – Richard V. Reeves
Ensure Black Americans have access to the ballot box – Molly E. Reynolds
Address exclusionary zoning laws and encourage pathways to build wealth outside homeownership – Jenny Schuetz
Create a “Tech New Deal” for Black America – Nicol Turner Lee
Reduce the barriers to entering the legal profession – Clifford Winston

Here’s a sample contribution from “Prioritize teacher diversity in public schools” by Michael Hansen, Herman and George R. Brown Chair, Director of the Brown Center on Education Policy, and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies: ”

“I urge the Biden-Harris administration to prioritize teacher diversity in public schools as a policy lever to both advance the status of students of color and promote a more inclusive, multicultural democracy for all. The demographics of the nation’s student body crossed the 50% nonwhite threshold in 2014, becoming officially “minority majority” status overall. Yet, the nation’s public teacher workforce remains disproportionately white—roughly 80% according to the latest data.

In recent years, the empirical evidence drawn from many rigorous studies across many different schooling contexts has coalesced around an important finding: exposure to teachers of color increases many short- and long-term outcomes for students of color and promotes greater tolerance and empathy among white students. School systems nationwide should capitalize on this evidence base and start using teacher race as a policy lever for stronger and more equitable public education.

Since the waning days of the Obama administration, many states and districts have taken actions to promote diversity among teacher ranks, though often these efforts are targeted to urban settings, often with high shares of nonwhite students. The problem, though, is that student diversity is growing more diffuse, quickly increasing in the suburban and rural areas that previously served almost exclusively white student bodies; thus, current efforts likely misdirect teachers of color away from the areas where they could be most impactful.

Beyond recruiting greater numbers of teachers, school leaders also need complementary strategies both to provide more exposure opportunities to nonwhite teachers for all students, and to help train existing teachers to work with and support students of color without projecting their unconscious biases onto them. Fortunately, the evidence base on these areas is deep enough to point to the strategies leading to more inclusive schools where all students can learn on a level playing field.”

In addition, “For more information, you can read more Brookings experts’ analysis on race and American public policy, watch a recent webinar featuring Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., and subscribe to receive updates with future research in this field.”

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