Maryland’s Baltimore County Public Schools is focused on “Growing Our Own” STEM teachers, directing $1 million to BIPOC and women educators to address the failing district’s “major teacher shortage.”

BIPOC is an acronym for Black, indigenous, people of color, implying white male teachers need not apply.

Go Ad-Free, Get Content, Go Premium Today - $1 Trial

“Every child deserves to grow up with role models and mentors who look like them,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in a BCPS statement. “Diversity is our strength in Baltimore County and the new recruitment scholarship will support students from across the county and make our school system stronger and more vibrant.”

The program, which has already taken root in Chicago, will award scholarships for tuition, books, and fees to “help attract and retain more high-quality teachers in Team BCPS and create a more diverse and responsive teaching corps in our schools” Superintendent Myriam Rogers said.

Parents, however, are more concerned with their children’s academics than the color of the teachers in front of them, noting only 34% are proficient in reading and 15% in math, according to Niche.

Alex Nester, investigative fellow with Parents Defending Education, told CITC Baltimore County’s race-based teacher scholarships are “overtly discriminatory” and prioritizes “race and gender politics” over student learning.

Go Ad-Free, Get Content, Go Premium Today - $1 Trial

“Any time that you’re prioritizing any other quality other than just the best and brightest teachers, then you might be looking past teachers that are really good fits for the district, but because they aren’t a certain race … then they’re being passed over,” Nester said. “And that’s wrong.”

The district’s announcement of the Diverse Teacher Recruitment Scholarship notes 40.4% of the district’s students are black, 32.8% are white, 14% are Hispanic/Latino, and 7.3% are Asian; while 55.2% of teachers are white, 34.9% black, 5.1% Hispanic, and 2.26% Asian.

A BCPS spokesperson told CTIC officials believe the program “will enhance the teacher pipeline.”

“As Superintendent Dr. Rogers shared, the research is clear on the importance of having a diverse teacher workforce and we look forward to seeing the impact this program will have on the system for years to come,” they said.

The scholarships in Baltimore County follow a Grow Your Own Chicago program that has produced 90 “educators of color” since 2020.

“Now, in its second decade, GYO Chicago sets the benchmark for producing racially diverse, community-centered teachers for our local public schools,” the GYO Chicago website reads. “With approximately 100 students, the Chicago Grow Your Own program is the state’s largest GYO cohort.”

The site explains how the taxpayer-funded loans gives “educators of color” a major advantage with candidate coordinators who meet one-on-one with participants “to assist them in navigating the challenges of higher education, earning a teaching license, and transitioning into the classroom.

“Additionally, social and educational support is offered through an inclusive peer group. In our monthly meetings, we also address social, racial, and economic inequities impacting hard-to-staff schools.”

The impact the program has had on student learning is questionable.

Last year, only 26% of Chicago Public Schools students tested proficient, while that figure for math was 17.5%. In 2019, the year before started turning out graduates, those numbers were 27.3% and 23.6%, respectively, according to Chalkbeat Chicago.