Education majors welcomed into dynamic, diverse field

Dwight WatsonThe University of Northern Iowa's spring Teacher Education Induction Convocation honored 187 students who satisfied requirements to be officially admitted into the UNI Teacher Education program. Dwight C. Watson, dean of the College of Education, delivered the convocation address. He shared his story of growing up in the segregated South and how culturally competent teachers brought out the best in him and helped him realize his educational goals.

With today’s diverse student population, it’s imperative that teachers know how to effectively interact with people of different cultures. To underscore the breadth of this diversity, Watson shared the following facts with convocation inductees and attendees:

  • People of color (black, Asian, Latino, American Indian, and various other ethnicities and blended races) represent one-third of the nation’s population.
  • Nearly half of U.S. children under age 5 are people of color.
  • Through 2020, all of the growth within the K through 12 student population will occur among students of color.
  • By 2015, children of immigrants will represent more than one-fourth of all U.S. students.
  • By 2030, 40 percent of the K through 12 population will have a first language other than English.
  • Data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics showed that 90 percent of public school teachers are white, 6 percent are black and fewer than 5 percent are of other races.
  • The Educational Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based educational advocacy group, stated that 75 percent of public school teachers are white females. This group further predicted that by 2020, students of color would represent more than half of the elementary and secondary school populations. 

“I share these facts because I know that white teachers can effectively teach students of color,” said Watson. “More specifically, I know that white females can teach black males how to read, explore and wonder. I know this because of my own teaching and learning experiences.”

Learn more about Watson’s personal and academic journey in his convocation address.