Education Week – Why Aren’t There More Asian American School Leaders? Here’s What We Heard

February 27, 2023

Less than 2 percent of K-12 principals are from Asian American and Pacific Islander backgrounds.

Teachers who identify as AAPI represent a little over 2.5 percent of the teaching workforce in public schools.

How can district leaders boost those numbers?

Education Week spoke with four Asian American school leaders, from different backgrounds, about their career paths. They offer insights into why more AAPI talent may not even consider an education career, along with tips for district leaders and policymakers to consider as they seek to increase the share of educators of color in schools.

Rewrite the education narrative to attract Gen Z

Schools are competing for talent among students who have the option to enter fields that are much more lucrative and not burdened by the image of overworked and underpaid educators.

“I think from a macro perspective, we’ve got to rewrite this narrative about what it means to be an educator in the United States,” said Shara Hegde, who is Indian American and the chief executive officer of Alpha Public Schools in San Jose, Calif.

Shara Hegde

“When I think about the role of an educator in this country, versus the role of an educator in a different country that has a strong system, there’s a prestige and a reverence and a real focus on quality of life for those individuals, versus here,” she said. “It always feels like our teachers are fighting for something.”

That’s bad for attracting potential talent from all backgrounds but perhaps even more so for Asian Americans, who may already be worried about going against their parents’ wishes for a career choice, she said.

“I think at a state policy advocacy level, we all have to fight to elevate the profession as a whole,” Hegde said. “Because I think in the Asian-American community we are fighting against those cultural influences that are very real for us. We don’t want to disappoint our families. We don’t want to not live up to expectations. ”

The image of educators as beleaguered professionals doesn’t bode well for attracting members of Gen Z, (thoseborn in 1997 and after) andwho care more than previous generations about maintaining better work-life balance. They are also unlikely to stay in one job for 40 years.

School and district leaders have to rethink the pitch to a younger generation and highlight how much they can learn and grow and contribute to their communities even if they don’t stay for the long haul.

“How do we design for people who want to have fulfilling careers, but are not willing to work 20 hours a day to have those careers, and also they want that quality of life, the good benefits, the good retirement packages, the ability to have a family and not sacrifice to take care of your family?” Hegde said. “Those are all the things Gen Z is telling us. Figure this out.”

Read Full Article – Education Week


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