Montgomery County school officials, having watched minority-group enrollments rise steadily over the past five years while the percentage of nonwhite teachers remained stable, yesterday announced a new effort to recruit black, Hispanic and Asian instructors.
Superintendent Wilmer S. Cody announced plans for a personnel team to seek more minority group teachers and at the same time released statistics showing a 29.8 percent nonwhite enrollment among the county's 92,718 students, an increase from 23.8 percent five years ago. The percentage of minority teachers is 11.5 percent of the 6,575 total, a proportion that has not changed significantly since 1981.
Montgomery schools are "firmly committed to improving the education of all students," Cody said. "With a minority enrollment that is almost 30 percent and is growing, we can do that more effectively only if we have a higher percentage of black, Hispanic and Asian teachers."
Cody said the school system had attempted to increase the percentage of minority teachers this year by recruiting at national conferences but failed. Of the 5,250 applications submitted for 500 positions in Montgomery, only 377 or 7.2 percent were from minorities, he said. When final selections were made, 46 or 9.2 percent of the new teachers were minorities.
Cody said he plans to appoint three staff members -- a black, Hispanic and Asian -- to form the recruitment team. The team will seek help from civic leaders and business groups, particularly those from the county's black, Hispanic and Asian communities, and from teachers and administrators, he said. The team members will develop strategies for recruitment as well as working with schools and departments of education at local colleges, he said.
Cody said there were no plans to offer increased salaries to attract nonwhite teachers but added that the school system will examine other incentives such as providing student loans to prospective teachers or paying their moving costs.
"Part of it will mean selling the school system," Cody said. "And that's something we haven't been in the practice of doing."
"We are facing a general teacher shortage in the next three or four years and we need to re-establish methods and techniques of aggressive recruiting. A team focusing on minority teachers can help lead the way."
Cody said he is unaware of what efforts other nearby counties have made. Montgomery's initiative to recruit additional minority teachers is not a new policy for the school board, he said, but part of Montgomery's effort to increase minority student achievement.