House passes Giraldo bill to encourage recruiting teachers from diverse, underrepresented backgrounds


STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) that would encourage the recruitment of teachers from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

The legislation (2023-H 5421) would direct the Department of Education, in collaboration with the postsecondary education commissioner and the board of governors of the University of Rhode Island, to generate a written report of concrete proposals to attract persons from diverse and traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to teach in Rhode Island public schools.

“When students of color share the experiences and viewpoints of teachers who look like them, they demonstrate greater long-term academic achievement,” said Representative Giraldo. “That means higher test scores, higher social development, a greater likelihood of staying in school and a greater likelihood of going on to college. This is an important bill for laying the groundwork to hire and retain more diverse teachers and improve the outcomes of students of color.”

According to the Kids Count Factbook, racial and ethnic diversity has increased in Rhode Island over the last decade. Between 2010 and 2020, the Hispanic child population grew by 22% while the non-Hispanic white child population declined by 22%. In 2020, 47% of children in Rhode Island were children of color, up from 36% in 2010. In Rhode Island, children are more likely to be people of color than adults.

The House also passed a bill (2023-H 5755A) sponsored by Representative Giraldo that incorporates the use of appropriate disability language in state laws, by replacing the terms “developmental disability,” “mentally retarded,” “alcoholics” or “drug abusers” with the words, “intellectual or developmental disability” or “persons with substance use disorders.”

“Just as representation is important for traditionally underrepresented groups, the words we use to describe those who have been traditionally marginalized is extremely important,” said Representative Giraldo. “This bill changes the wording in our state laws to be more compassionate and understanding.”

Both measures now move to the Senate, which has passed similar disability language legislation (2023-S 0722A) introduced by Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket).