At Ed Trust, we want to continue the conversation about recruiting and retaining excellent teachers of color. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the student population will be 56 percent students of color by the year 2024. And yet, the majority of teachers still remains vastly White — 82 percent. And that number has hardly budged in decades.
In 2016, we released Through Our Eyes: Perspectives and Reflections of Black Teachers.
In this report, we address issues that relate to why Latino teachers may choose to stay in or leave the teaching profession. It is important to recognize that these issues aren’t just school specific: States and districts can play a major role in increasing teacher diversity. After all, they set the foundation for how teachers are hired, placed, and supported once they get into their buildings. So let’s talk more specifically about what state leaders can do:
- Make the invisible visible. Leaders in state departments of education are uniquely positioned to provide district and school leaders — and the public — with transparent information on patterns in student assignment to diverse teachers, potential causes for these patterns, and their impact on children. They should disaggregate these analyses by teacher race/ethnicity to understand whether personnel policies and working conditions might be undermining teacher diversity.
- Set goals and meet clear improvement expectations for leaders at all levels. Setting expectations for equitable access to a diverse teacher workforce must include clear numeric goals, timelines for reaching those goals, and intermediate targets that allow the state — and the public — to monitor progress.
- Target resources to the districts and schools struggling most with these issues. When providing assistance, state leaders can focus their teacher pipeline, preparation, development, and retention efforts on the districts and schools that have the least teacher diversity.
- Share best practices from districts that are demonstrating success and develop networks of district leaders to problem-solve together. States can help district leaders learn from other similar districts that have found success with particular strategies aimed at improving the diversity of the teacher workforce. For instance, if some districts have found that hiring a cohort of teachers of color in the same school building improves retention of teachers of color, their state or other states could create a network of district human capital leaders to adapt and implement that practice in other districts.
- Make teacher diversity a key component of school improvement efforts. A lack of teacher diversity may suggest leadership and school climate challenges that impact students’ experience. State leaders must prompt and support districts and schools to identify and address a lack of teacher diversity as key components of school improvement efforts.
Research shows that all students benefit from a diverse teacher workforce, but it’s up to states and districts to prioritize the recruitment and retention of teachers of color. By using some of the above strategies, leaders can make a legitimate push to increase diversity and help all students have access to the strong teachers they deserve.