Diversity, competency equal in poll of teaching credentials

By Kim Salmon & Elise Leasure

Though racial diversity at Cedar Falls High School isn’t quite as broad as compared to other schools in the surrounding area, a recent survey by CFHS sociology students of 122 students and staff found that respondents place a high importance on racial diversity within the American education system, and specifically, Cedar Falls High School.

According to USNews.com’s Best High School Rankings, CFHS minorities represent 15 percent of the student body.  Of the 122 students and staff that took the survey, 24.6 percent (30) said that they strongly agree that racial diversity is an important factor in American education, while 15.6 percent (19) of students said that racial diversity in the student body and staff was not an important factor.

The considerations of respondents for diversity applied directly to the racial makeup of the current teaching staff and hiring practices for the future. Many staff members believe that hiring teaching staff should be based upon qualifications rather than race, but recognize that the CFHS teacher diversity is very minimal. Of the 65 teachers who took the survey, 46.2 percent (30 teachers) said they strongly agreed that racial diversity is important in the American education system.

Spanish teacher Patricia Black is one of the few staff members who was born outside of the United States. Black said that it would be nice to see more diversity within the staff, although qualifications are the most important factor. “It would be cool if we could have more diversity, but you need to also have the best qualified teachers. It is not based on race, but on qualifications,” Black said.

Principal Jason Wedgbury’s insights matched those of Black on racial diversity at the high school.

“Diversity exposes us to more viewpoints and ways of thinking, increasing levels of tolerance especially when talking about race and more opportunities,” Wedgbury said. “I do think that we continue to grow in our racial diversity. When I talk about diversity, I am not only talking about race. I am also very aware of diversity through the hiring process. People who are most qualified to do the job get the positions. If everyone who is going through the interviewing process has the same qualifications and the ability to perform the job responsibilities on an equal level, then the consideration will be diversity. It is beneficial to have a staff who reflects a similar diversity in our student body.”

Sophomore Aimee Robisky, as someone of a different ethnic background, said, “Racial diversity isn’t just about having different races. It’s about different ethnic backgrounds. Even though I’m Asian, I don’t consider myself as a minority because I am raised by white people, so I don’t have that connection with my heritage.”

Robisky’s thoughts also paralleled with Black and Wedgbury that having qualified and efficient teaching staff is important, no matter the race of the teacher. “I don’t care what race the teacher is. I only care if they are a good, qualified teacher. Not more diversity, but to be more accepting,” Robisky said.

Other staff members, such as biology teacher Jeff Hartman, recognize the benefits that a diverse teaching staff could offer, and how it can contribute to creating different viewpoints and ideas. “Racial diversity is a good thing. People from different backgrounds all have different things to contribute which is a good thing. It all makes us better,” Hartman said. “It makes us all better. I think that we should have the best teaching staff regardless of their racial background.”

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