Demand for talented people trained in STEM disciplines is growing rapidly in the United States. According to the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2016 (NSB, 2016), between 2008 and 2014 the number of STEM occupations rose by about half a million, whereas the total workforce stayed relatively steady. Yet, minorities are deeply underrepresented in STEM fields, which, in addition to being more plentiful, are also better paid than other jobs. One important contributing factor to the underrepresentation of minority students in STEM fields is the lack of minority STEM teachers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students of color in 2012 made up more than 45% of PK-12 population, but teachers of color represented only 17.5% of the teacher workforce. Teachers of color also had a 24% higher turnover rate than their white counterparts.
This is simultaneously a challenge and an opportunity. To address this issue, the Smithsonian Science Education Center in collaboration with Shell Oil Company will host a Summit in New Orleans, LA on March 22-24, 2019 to engage leadership teams from promising districts throughout the US who have identified problems of practice related to attracting and retaining a diverse STEM teaching workforce. This Summit will be a highly interactive 2.5 days, with a clear outcome at the end – developing district-specific “action plans” for recruiting and retaining minority STEM teachers to leadership roles while remaining in the classroom.