3D coalition aims to bridge Des Moines’ minority gap


Dr. Rosenna Bakari helps student Katelynn Holcomb with class work in Educational Psychology required for DMACC’s Pre-Education AA degree.

By Ann Voight.

DMACC, Drake University and Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) are collaborating and have started the 3D Coalition.

The program is designed to help identify, recruit, educate, and employ minorities who would make outstanding teachers.  This follows two previous efforts in recruiting minorities for the educational system, the 1970’s Career Opportunity Program, and the more recent 2005-2009’s Teacher Quality Program.

The new program combines what worked with each of the prior programs, which were federally funded grants. The 3D Coalition is not a federally funded program.  The main source of the program’s funds comes from an assortment of private investors.  There is a $50,000 fund offered by DMACC for people within the program, which will cover the DMACC portion of the schooling.

In an interview for DMPS TV’s Classroom Connections, Des Moines Superintendent Tom Ahart said that the main challenge of hiring a diverse teaching staff is that the majority of potential teachers are white—many are recruited through the universities in Iowa.

Only 4.5% of the teachers are a minority although over 53% of the students enrolled within the school system identify as a minority.

Ahart also said that hiring more minority educators within the school system is very important.  “The more [the students] see models of professional success that look like them, the more encouraged, the more motivated and the more possible they see their future possibilities to be.”

In the same interview, Jan McMahill, dean at Drake University’s School of Education, said the program would vary individual to individual.

“Some of [the recruits] are at the Bachelor’s level already.  They have other degrees but they have not had the opportunity to be teachers, so they can start at Drake at the Masters level.  Others are just beginning, and they’ve been tapped and identified as those who are really possible.

When they get to Drake we’ll help them to identify an educational pathway and, in a way, customize their course work so that it matches their work; most of them are already employed and working full time in Des Moines,” McMahill said.

McMahill also singled out the fact that this program uses group mentoring, saying that the groups help with support from others who have been in similar situations.

Once the recruit has gone through the whole program—having met both Drake’s requirements and the program’s requirements—each individual will explore their teaching options within the DMPS system. They must agree to stay in Des Moines for at least as long as they were in the 3D program.

Currently there are 25 people in the program.  Most work within the DMPS in a non-teacher capacity like an office manager, teacher associates, even from within the business and finance departments, and one is a DMACC employee.

Three people are presently enrolled at DMACC and Drake, nine start in the spring semester, and twelve start classes in the fall of 2014.

In order to be considered for the program, candidates must identify as being a minority, be identified by someone within the community as being an excellent teacher and express interest in completing an endorsement.

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