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Strength in Diversity Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 15, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. MUCARSEL-POWELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of my amendment to the Strength in Diversity Act, and I am very grateful to Representative Fudge for allowing me to introduce this amendment, a critical piece of legislation to begin reversing decades of resegregation in our schools.

In Florida, nearly 63 percent of students are from minority communities, compared to only 30 percent of teachers. This disparity is exacerbating racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

A teacher in my district, Sharon Rivers, emphasized the importance of diversity in the classroom, saying: ``Culture diversity in the classroom is essential in helping us recognize, respect, and welcome the many differences across the district. It is imperative that we allow our understanding of our differences to build a bridge of respect for one another.''

I couldn't agree more, and my amendment would build upon that effort by increasing the diversity of our teaching workforce. Teachers of color can provide more culturally relevant education and better understand the situations their students of color are facing, helping develop stronger student-teacher relationships.

Our teachers should reflect our communities and our schools. Recent studies show that increased teacher diversity results in better achievement scores, lower levels of disciplinary action, and reduced dropout rates. In fact, a Florida study showed that Black students had higher reading and math scores when taught by Black teachers.

Unfortunately, in most States, as the proportion of students of color grows, the number of minority teachers is not keeping pace. We must do more to ensure that all students, regardless of their race or background, are set up for success.

I urge everyone to vote to pass my amendment.

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